As residents of the sunshine state, we bypass extreme temperatures all winter long; however, it is important to be aware that extreme summer temperatures are dangerous. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of more than 600 people die from complications related to extreme heat each year.
As summer temperatures remain high through August, so does the risk for heat-related illness. Current forecasts predict temperatures remaining in the 80s and 90s, offering little relief for locals. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke so that you can respond quickly in an emergency.
“Extreme heat can pose very serious health risks,” said White-Wilson Medical Center Family Medicine Physician, Dr. Christopher Hansen. “Signs of heat exhaustion include muscle cramping, heavy sweating, vomiting or fainting, and heat stroke signs include a body temperature above 103°F, lack of sweat, dry skin, rapid pulse or unconsciousness.”
Dr. Hansen recommends that you move indoors to air-conditioning and seek medical attention immediately if you experience any symptoms of heat-related illness.
These steps can help you beat the heat this summer:
- Stay in an indoor air-conditioned location as much as possible. Air conditioning is the number one factor against heat-related illness and death, according to the CDC.
- Drink more water than usual, and avoid sugary drinks and alcohol. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water.
- Avoid heat exposure during the hottest hours of the day, usually 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Those who work outdoors should adjust their workday to limit over exposure during these hours.
- Wear light colored and loose fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- Don’t forget your wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.
- Pace your physical activity, starting slow.
- Stay informed of local weather and extreme heat warnings.
- Take a cool shower or bath to cool down.
- Never leave children or pets in cars.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and respond quickly in an emergency.
“Heat-related illnesses are serious, but something we can avoid by using caution. Young children, the elderly and people with chronic disease or mental illness are at the highest risk for heat-related illness,” said Dr. Hansen. “It is important to be aware of the symptoms of heat-related illness and closely monitor the people that are dependent on you for their care.”
Dr. Christopher Hansen is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is currently accepting new patients at the White-Wilson Family Medicine Clinic in Fort Walton Beach. White-Wilson offers Family Medicine Clinics in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Navarre and Niceville. For more information on White-Wilson Family Medicine providers or to schedule an appointment, call 850.863.6600 or visit www.white-wilson.com.