With excessive heat blanketing many parts of the country, it is important to be aware that, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more people die from heat waves each year than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined.
Older individuals are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heat stress. Because heat-related deaths are preventable, people and communities need to be aware of who is at greatest risk and what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death. The following resources outline important steps that can be taken to respond to excessive heat events:
- Hot Weather: Observe These Precautions (Source: Purdue Extension)
- Hot Weather: Recognize These Precautions (Source: Purdue Extension)
Health Tips for Hot Weather
From the Indiana State Department of Heatlh and the CDC: Experts say the best ways for you to endure humidity and avoid the dangers of heat exhaustion and heat stroke are to:
- Observe reasonable precautions
- Recognize the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion
- Apply appropriate treatment, should the symptoms occur
Pace yourself. For work or recreation in the sun, be sure to take frequent breaks to drink plenty of fluids and cool off out of the heat. Take it easy. Put off strenuous activities that can wait until weather cools. Stay cool. Use air-conditioning, if it's available; if it's not available, take cool baths, showers, or sponge baths and temporarily inhabit dry basement spaces, which can be 10-15 degrees cooler.
Dress appropriately: wear light-colored, lightweight cotton clothing, which readily releases perspiration and reflects heat. Cotton absorbs perspiration better and thus cools better than synthetics.
Eat lighter meals: avoid using your stove by eating more salads, fresh vegetables, and fruit. Drink fluids: drink plenty of cool, nonalcoholic beverages (water is best), especially when you're outdoors, to keep the body's cooling system operating efficiently. Avoid alcohol, which can induce dehydration.
Stay in the shade: if possible, perform work or strenuous recreational activities outdoors in the morning or early evening, when the sun's heat is less intense. Avoid sunburn and ultraviolet light poisoning.
Carry water: when you're away from home, keep water in nonbreakable bottles with you to easily replenish fluids lost to perspiration.
Look after the very young and the aged: babies and older adults are more susceptible to heat-induced illness. Check on them regularly. Call your local health department for instructions if you are unsure.