HARRISBURG – Health Secretary Everette James reminded all Pennsylvanians to take necessary precautions to remain healthy and safe in extremely hot weather.
“Many people do not understand just how dangerous hot weather can be. It’s important to know what actions can be taken to prevent heat-related illness or death,” said James. “The elderly, young children under the age of four, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy individuals can be affected if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.”
The two most common types of heat-related illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting. Anyone showing symptoms of heat exhaustion should rest in a cool area and drink plenty of water. If their condition does not improve within an hour, or worsens, they should promptly seek medical attention.
Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Warning signs of heat stroke include extreme body temperatures, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness and confusion. Anyone showing signs of heat stroke should seek medical attention immediately.
The Department of Health offers these tips for staying healthy during hot weather:
• Drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid beverages with caffeine and alcohol;
• Dress in lightly-colored, loose-fitting clothing;
• Stay indoors if possible and;
• Postpone strenuous activity and outdoor work until later in the day when the temperature drops.
Additional information and hot weather safety tips are available through the Department of Health Web site.