Stay safe in summer heat

Memorial Day weekend kicked off the unofficial start of summer, and that means rising temperatures across the Southern states, along with an increased risk for heat-related illnesses.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) encourage residents to take simple precautions to ensure their safety in the summer heat:

• Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do heavy work, do it during the coolest part of the day.

• Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Try to go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours. Remember, electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate, which cools your body.

• Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy.

• Drink plenty of water and fluids regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool.

• Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which dehydrates your body.

• Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.

• Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

• Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on infants and young children, people aged 65 or older, people who have a mental illness and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.

• Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

• Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially children.

Warning signs of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature; red, hot and dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; and dizziness, nausea, confusion and/or unconsciousness. Any of these can be signs of a life-threatening emergency.

If someone you know is experiencing these symptoms in the heat, try to bring the person’s body temperature down immediately by bringing him or her to a shady area and cooling the person’s skin rapidly with water. Make sure to monitor the person’s body temperature and, above all, do not give him or her alcohol to drink. Seek professional medical attention immediately.

If you see a child left unattended in a vehicle, contact local law enforcement or dial 911.

To learn more about signs of heat stroke, visit DHH’s website at

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Posted by on Jun 1 2013. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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