As many Texas areas mark record high temperatures, the Texas Department of State Health Services reminds people to be aware of the signs of heat illness and to take precautions to protect themselves from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The elderly, young children, people with chronic diseases and those without access to air conditioning are most at risk.
Staying in an air conditioned area, either at home or at public places like malls, libraries or community centers, is the best way to combat heat. If air conditioning is not available, open windows, pull down shades to keep out direct sunlight and use fans to cool rooms.
The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Stay cool, drink plenty of fluids, wear cool clothing and monitor outdoor activities. Other precautions:
Never leave anyone, including pets, in a parked vehicle – even for a short time. Vehicles can heat up to deadly temperatures in minutes. Cracking the windows does little to keep temperatures down. If your child sits in the back seat, put your purse, briefcase, wallet or another essential item behind you so you’ll notice your child is there before exiting the vehicle. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the heat. Call 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a vehicle.
Check frequently on older friends, neighbors and family members. Visit at least twice a day and watch for signs of heat illness. Assist them with transportation to places with air conditioning and make sure they know what to do if they experience heat illness. Most deaths caused by heat stroke occur in people over 50 years old. They are more likely to have a medical condition or be taking medication that can interfere with the body’s response to heat.
Take action at the first sign of heat illness. Symptoms of heat illness include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, nausea, weak but rapid pulse and headaches. People with these symptoms should find shade, drink water slowly and make sure there is good ventilation. If symptoms don’t improve, seek medical attention.
Drink plenty of water. Drink liquids 30 minutes before going outside and continue even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks.