Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heat Wave Tips from Sentara Potomac Hospital

During these dog days of summer, the possibility of heat-related illness increases. According to Dr. Luis Eljaiek, chairman of the Irene V. Hylton Emergency Care Center at Sentara Potomac Hospital, everyone should follow these guidelines during extreme heat:

• Drink plenty of water.Decrease your intake of alcohol and carbonated and caffeinated beverages. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
• Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
• Stay indoors (in air-conditioned buildings) during extreme heat. Avoid outdoors and the sun if possible.
• Eliminate running, biking, yard work and other strenuous activities.
• NEVER leave anyone or pets in a closed, parked vehicle.
• Check on your elderly neighbors, as they are especially susceptible to heat-related illness.

If you must be out in the heat:

• Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
• Try to rest often in shady areas.
• Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.
• Drink water often. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.

Warning signs of heat exhaustion include the following:
• Heavy sweating
• Paleness
• Muscle cramps
• Tiredness
• Weakness
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Fainting

Seek medical attention immediately if any of the following occurs:
• Symptoms are severe.
• The victim has heart problems or high blood pressure.

Otherwise, help the victim to cool off, and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than 1 hour.