Heat-related illnesses can be prevented as temperatures rise for summer

PERMIAN BASIN, TX (KWES) - Summer officially begins on June 21, but here in West Texas triple-digit temperatures are already a reality. Knowing how to combat the hot temperatures and intense sunlight is crucial for the summer months.

With the rising temperatures, the risk of heat-related illnesses increases greatly. The CDC reports that from 1999 to 2010 there were over 8,000 heat-related deaths in the U.S., and with temperatures increasing that number is sure to rise.

While everyone is at risk for heat-related illnesses, men are reportedly much more likely than women to experience heat-related deaths, particularly men ages 35 to 64.

Although the risk that comes with these illnesses is great, they are easy to prevent by following some simple steps:

  • stay in facilities with air-conditioning
  • drink water and other non-alcoholic fluids
  • reduce or eliminate strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day
  • wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two of the most serious heat-related illnesses that people experience in the summer, and many of the warning signs are very similar. Those suffering from either might exhibit these key symptoms:

  • nausea
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • fainting or unconsciousness.

A key difference between these two is that heat stroke is accompanied by red, hot and dry skin with no sweating and a body temperature measuring higher than 103 °F. Heat exhaustion on the other hand often brings about muscle cramps.

If someone around you appears to be suffering from either of these illnesses, acting quickly and performing these steps can help save their lives:

  • Take the victim to a cool or shady area
  • Provide them with a cool, non-alcoholic beverage, preferably water
  • Lower the victim’s body temperature with a cool bath or shower (rapidly in the case of heat stroke)

If you suspect that someone is suffering from heat stroke, this treatment should be followed up with an immediate visit to an emergency room to ensure that the victim recovers and that no permanent damage has occurred.

It is also important to check on any elderly neighbors or family members who are more at-risk for heat-related illnesses. You should also ensure that your pets have water and a cool place to stay and make sure not to leave children or animals in cars for any period of time.

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