Safety tips to prevent heat-related illness


As Europe experiences a heatwave that is causing a heat emergency for millions of people, Mayo Clinic Healthcare offers tip on coping with the extreme weather

Extreme temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These life-threatening illnesses can often be prevented, according to the experts at Mayo Clinic Healthcare.

Heat exhaustion
Heat exhaustion can happen when your body becomes dehydrated and loses too much water and salt due to high temperatures and humidity.

Those most at risk are older adults, those with high blood pressure and those who are working outside. Left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to more a severe heat-related illness, a heat-stroke.

Heatstroke is caused by your body overheating, usually because of prolonged exposure to, or physical exertion in, high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury can occur if your body temperature rises to 40C or higher.

Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.

Preventing heat-related illnesses
To prevent heat-related illnesses, you should:

— Stay cool. Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you do not have air conditioning, consider a shopping mall or public building, such as a library, to cool down. Do not rely solely on box fans during extreme temperatures.
— Adults over 65 may not tolerate sudden changes in temperature as well as younger people. Check on them more frequently. Ensure they drink enough water.
— Stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Water and sports drinks are the most effective warm-weather drinks.
— Avoid alcohol, as it can make you more dehydrated.
— Eat lighter meals.
— Wear lightweight or loose-fitting clothing.
— Protect yourself against sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect your eyes and skin.
— Avoid being outside during the hottest part the day.
— Check on friends, family and neighbors. Ask them to do the same for you.
— Make sure your pets have plenty of water.
— Never leave people or pets alone in a vehicle. Each year, multiple children die after being left in hot cars. This is never a safe practice, even if you leave the windows open a crack.
— Stay informed. Watch the news and weather for updates.

Preventing illness is not always possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you are concerned someone is showing signs of a heat-related illnesses including a heat-stroke. Those signs and symptoms may include fever, confusion or agitation, heavy sweating and vomiting.