Summertime Heat Brings New Health Risks

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Summer is time for the beach, road trips, and family vacations, but as the temperatures start to rise, it also means a new wave of health and safety threats.

The National Weather Service (NWS) is urging people to “Look Before You Lock” in an effort to reduce the number of kids killed from being left alone in a hot vehicle. The NWS says that on average, 38 kids die each year by being left in a vehicle, 88% are under the age of 3. Nine toddlers have already died in hot cars in 2019. Children, and also pets, can die in as quick as 15 minutes from heat stroke from being locked in a hot car. Leaving a car window cracked does not help lower the temperature inside the car.

Extreme heat can be an issue in other ways as well. Heat waves can cause serious injuries and even death, especially those working or playing outside. If outside during extreme heat, the NWS says to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water. Find air conditioning and wear light clothing. Check in with family members or friends, especially the elderly, who may not have air conditioning.

The NWS wants people to know the symptoms of heat related injuries so people can avoid further injuries or death. Heat exhaustion is a typical heat injury. This includes being dizzy, excessive sweating, cool and clammy skin, nausea, rapid or weak pulse, or muscle cramps. If you experience any of these symptoms, get to a cooler, air conditioned place and drink water. Take a cool shower or use a cold compress to try to cool yourself down.

If heat exhaustion gets worse, you may experience heat stroke. Heat stroke can be deadly if not treated right away. Symptoms include a throbbing headache or confusion, no sweating, fever of 103 degrees, red and hot or dry skin, rapid or strong pulse, or loss of consciousness. If any of these occur, call 9-1-1 immediately. Move to a cooler place, use cool cloths or bath, and do not have anything to drink as the person may choke if they lose consciousness.

The NWS says that when going outside, you should put on sunscreen of at least SPF 30 or higher at least 15 minutes prior to being outside and reapply every two hours, or after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Use UV-blocking sunglasses and use extra caution around sand and water as UV rays are reflected off these surfaces and increases your chance of sunburn.