hit the region with a vengeance: with highs reported in the 90s.
High heat is not just uncomfortable, but can be dangerous—particularly for the very young, the very old and those suffering from chronic diseases including mental illness.
Emergency medicine professionals at West Penn Allegheny Health System and offer the following tips to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe as summer continues.
- In your house, keep cool air in and hot air out. Temporary window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, can be set between windows and drapes to reflect heat back outside.
- Cover windows receiving morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades or awnings.
- In the absence of air conditioning, open windows during the coolest part of the day and use fans to keep air circulating.
- Stay on the lowest floor.
- Stay indoors as much as possible. If you can, spend time during the day in an air conditioned area such as a mall, library or community cooling station.
- Eat light. Digesting food creates metabolic heat and increases dehydration.
- Limit alcohol intake, which also contributes to dehydration.
- Most people should drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic beverages, however, consult your doctor if you have epilepsy, heart, kidney or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets or retain fluid.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen. A sunburn hampers your body in releasing excess heat.
- Before you leave the car, double-check to make sure everyone is out: infants, children and pets.
- Leaving someone in a car, even with the windows cracked, can be deadly.
- Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. Most heat-related illnesses occur when victims are overexposed to heat or over-exercise for their age and/or physical condition. Even young and healthy individuals, however, can succumb to heat if they take part in overly strenuous physical exercise outdoors during hot weather. People living in urban areas are at high risk. City air quality may be poor, and stagnant air can trap pollutants, aggravating respiratory problems. Asphalt and concrete also store heat longer, leading to higher evening temperatures.
- Be alert to the signs of heat exhaustion: heavy sweating; weakness; cold, clammy skin; a weak pulse; fainting, and vomiting. Apply cool, wet cloths and give sips of cool water. Seek medical attention immediately if vomiting occurs.
- Be especially alert to the signs of heat stroke, an extremely dangerous condition. Symptoms are body temperature of 105 degrees or above, hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing and lack of sweat. Call 911 immediately. Before help arrives, cool the victim as best you can with a cool bath or sponge, fan or air conditioner.