As temperatures spike, so do trips to emergency rooms and the frequency of heat-related illnesses. While these illnesses can be serious and even life-threatening in many cases, there are fortunately some simple ways to stay safe in scorching temperatures, said Dr. Paul Silka, vice chairman of the Emergency Department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
"With temperatures soaring into the 100s, it's important that everyone take precautions and recognize the dangers that can come with hot weather, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke," Dr. Silka said. "Pay special attention to young children and senior citizens. They are most significantly affected."
Watch for these signs:
This illness may lead to heat stroke, so if you or someone else is experiencing symptoms, seek medical attention and monitor the condition closely. Symptoms include heavy sweating; cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; headache; dizziness or weakness and nausea.
This condition can be life-threatening, and requires emergency medical care. Symptoms include high body temperature; flushed hot, dry skin with no sweating; vomiting; weak, rapid pulse; decreased alertness; changes in consciousness; disorientation; confusion; impaired thinking and shallow, rapid breathing.
Here are a few do's and don'ts for safely weathering hot temperatures:
- Do drink water in frequent, small amounts. Try an 8-ounce glass at a time.
- Do wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothes and a hat to shade yourself.
- Do wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15.
- Do stay in a cool place during the hottest hours of the day, from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Consider visiting a mall, movie theater, library, or local cooling center - often offered in community senior centers and facilities.
- Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. By then your body is already low on fluids.
- Don't drink alcohol, caffeine or sugary drinks - they will dehydrate you.
- Don't take salt tablets. They will not replace water loss and can adversely affect your health.
- Don't leave children, pets or senior citizens unattended in a car for even a few minutes. It takes just moments for cars to heat up to lethal temperatures in hot weather.