Keep your loved ones safe
when the weather turns hot
"Advocates helps you help yourself."
During the warmer weather, heat and hydration can become an important issue for everyone - but especially for those in a weaker health state, the elderly and the very young, and those with weakened immune systems.
During the warmer or hot weather when temperatures and humidity soar, it is important to keep your body cool due to the increased risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It is also important to not become dehydrated by taking enough fluids into the body. People taking certain medications or undergoing certain treatments can be especially susceptible to the heat, sun and humidity as well as being at greater risk for dehydration and exhaustion.
Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe. Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop suddenly, or over time, especially with prolonged periods of exercise. Possible heat exhaustion symptoms include: heavy sweating, fatigue, dizziness, cool or moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat, weak and rapid pulse, low blood pressure upon standing or sudden feeling of light headedness upon standing, muscle cramps, headache, or nausea. Heat exhaustion, if left untreated, may progress to a heat stroke. If you feel the early symptoms starting, stop activity and get into a cool place and or tepid bath. Drink non caffeinated fluids and rest. If symptoms persist or worsen get medical assistance immediately or call 911.
A body temperature of 104 F or higher is the main sign of heatstroke, Additional symptoms can include: lack of sweating, however in a heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist. Nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, a racing heart rate, headache, confusion, unconsciousness, muscle cramps or weakness are all also symptoms of a heatstroke. Heat stroke is an emergent situation and medical attention is essential for personal well-being as this can be life threatening. Call 911.
Prevention: Avoiding strenuous activity and staying in a cool and shaded environment during the warmer hours of the day is very important. Staying inside in the air conditioning during those hours is the best idea. Most public buildings will have air conditioning - including museums, indoor shopping centers, theaters, and public libraries.
If you do not have access to air conditioning the next best thing is the use of a fan to help circulate the air and to keep the body cool. Portable fans can be purchased at most department and hardware stores as well as the local Good Will or Salvation Army stores when available.
If this is a financial burden there are several state and county resources that can be contacted for assistance, so check with your local county offices and in Marion County IN: Community Action of Greater Indianapolis 3266 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208;
Phone: 317-396-1800; www.cagi-in.org.
Also some churches or houses of worship offer assistance to those in need so check with your place of worship to see what is available. Pay attention to the local news channels as the weather starts to heat up for announcements about community resources offering assistance.
Taking a tepid bath or shower to help the body cool down will also help reduce stress on the body caused by the warmer temperatures. Placing a cool damp cloth to the skin will also help to cool the body down.
- Keeping hydrated is important during warmer weather because the body will perspire at a greater rate and in larger amounts in order to try to cool itself down which means that you can become dehydrated very quickly. Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. In addition to the increased perspiration or sweating, many other things can cause the body to become dehydrated, having diarrhea, vomiting, or fever. This can be a serious situation, especially in the elderly, very young and those already in a weakened health state. The best way to reverse mild dehydration is to drink more fluids. Unless you are on a physician ordered fluid restriction, drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of non-caffeinated beverages like water, a day is recommended. Also a sports drink, like Gatorade or Powerade may be of help when replacing electrolytes lost through increased sweating. Try to avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea and soda which can actually make dehydration worse. Avoid energy drinks which can contain caffeine and other chemicals. If the dehydration becomes severe medical attention would be needed to replace the lost fluids. Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration can include: thirst, sleepiness or tiredness, dry or sticky mouth, decrease in urination, dry skin, head ache, constipation, dizziness or feeling light headed, few tears or no tears when crying. If you experience symptoms stop activity, rest in a cool place and drink cool not hot fluids. If taking fluids in does not ease the symptoms contact medical assistance or call 911 immediately.
- Symptoms of Severe Dehydration should be considered a medical emergency and would require immediate medical attention. They may include any or all of the following: extreme thirst, very dry mouth, dry skin or mucous membranes, lack of sweating or perspiration, little or no urination or dark yellow to amber in color, sunken eyes, lack of skin elasticity or doesn’t bounce back, extreme fussiness in infants and children, irritability or confusion in adults, no tears when crying, low blood pressure or rapid heart rate or pulse, fever, and in the most serious cases delirium or unconsciousness. Severe dehydration can be life threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call 911.