Prevent and Prepare
The heat is on. Across most of the United States heat alerts are already in effect, and many will see temperatures pass 90 degrees. The U.S. National Weather Service is observing the risk of heat related illnesses with an awareness campaign.
First, it is vital to stay ahead of your thirst during these heat extremes, not just to drink when you are thirsty and taking breaks is essential. Salty pretzels, fruit and nuts are good options if you don’t have access to a drink like Gatorade or Powerade that replace electrolytes. Seniors are at greatly increased risk for heat stroke due to their reduced ability to sweat and therefore cool their bodies.
They also may be taking medications to treat blood pressure, which can reduce their ability to sweat. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Call 911 in such cases. Medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) do not reduce high core body temperatures, and could even be harmful. Patients need rapid cooling to reduce high core temperatures.
Along with blood pressure medications, antihistamines and medications to treat anxiety and depression may also increase the risk for heat stroke Hypertension, coronary artery disease and kidney disease all elevate the risk for developing heat stroke
Children are also at increased risk because they can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults, and they may not drink enough in hot weather. Never leave a child or a senior in a parked car in the hot sun. In temperatures as low as 70 degrees, the interior of the car can reach 90 to 100 degrees in as little as 20 to 30 minutes.
When it’s 90 degrees outside, the interior can heat up to 110 to 120 degrees in 30 minutes and be lethal.
National Heat Stroke Prevention Day was July 31.