People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies cannot properly cool themselves by sweating. Sweating is the body’s natural air conditioning, but when a person’s body temperature rises rapidly, sweating just isn’t enough.
Heat-related illnesses can be serious and life threatening. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs, and can cause disability and even death. Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable.
Here’s how you can protect yourself from heat-related illnesses:
• Drink plenty of non-carbonated liquids like water or electrolyte-enriched liquids to replace fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
• Avoid liquids that have alcohol, caffeine or lots of sugar because they will speed up fluid loss.
• Stay in air-conditioned areas such as malls, libraries, movie theatres and community centers. Even a few hours can cool your body’s temperature.
• If you feel very hot, cool off by taking a cool bath or shower. Opening a window or using a fan may not prevent heat-related illnesses.
• Do not cool children in alcohol baths. Cool, plain water baths or moist towels work best.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, such as cotton, so sweat can evaporate.
• NEVER leave anyone in closed, parked cars during hot weather.
• Do not bundle babies in blankets or heavy clothing. Infants do not tolerate heat well because their sweat glands are not fully developed.
Call the Douglas County Health Department at (417)683-4174 for more information on how to beat the heat.