Summer won’t officially make its appearance this year until June 21, but it is already hot. With the National Weather Service predicting temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s in some parts of the state — and even triple digits in the Midlands — this week, DHEC urges you to take precautions.
Whether you are out exercising or simply traveling to the grocery store to shop, take steps to protect yourself and others from possible heat-related illnesses. It’s not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are cracked or the car is in shade. Children’s body temperatures warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult’s.
What can be done to prevent heat-related illnesses?
Heat-related deaths are preventable. The best answer is to stay in an air-conditioned area. When you can’t do that, consider these tips:
Drink lots of water. If you are doing an outdoors activity, drink two to four glasses of at least 16 ounces of cool fluids every hour. Don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar, these actually cause you to lose body fluid.
Avoid strenuous activity.
Take frequent cool showers or baths.
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothes.
Limit sun exposure.
Never, ever, leave children or pets in a parked car. Having any person or pet in a car in the summer months without air conditioning is like putting them in an oven.
We’re no strangers to hot weather here in South Carolina. It’s a fact of life.
It’s also a fact that when the temperatures and humidity reach extremes, it can make people ill or even cause death. But heat-related deaths and illness are preventable.
Heat can be deadly
DHEC encourages everyone to understand the dangers of extreme heat. Heatstroke, the most serious of all heat-related illnesses, can cause damage to your body, especially your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage gets worse the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.
It is particularly important to inform older people about the perils of heat and to keep careful watch over those who might be under your care. People aged 65 years or older are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.
People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.
Several factors affect the body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions related to risk include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.
Who’s at Greatest Risk?
Because heat-related deaths are preventable, people need to be aware of who is at greatest risk and what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death. The elderly, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and use common sense: