With summer heating up, here's how to prevent heat stroke

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star

With summer amping up and weekends of grilling and outdoor activities in full swing, the threat of heat stroke looms.

“Heat related deaths and illnesses are preventable,” the CDC reports. “Despite this, around 618 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year.”

Staying cool, hydrated and informed of local heat alerts can reduce risk of this experience.

Heat waves:Temperatures scorch Northeast and the Northwest, killing at least 5 in US

More tips:How to keep your cool this summer among record high temperatures

Tips to avoid heat-related illness

• Try to limit outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, like morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas.

• Drink more fluids, regardless of the level of activity. Don’t wait until thirsty to drink.

• Stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks—these actually cause one to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

• Replace salt and minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can help replace salt and minerals lost in sweat.

Tips on avoiding extreme heat.

• When working in the heat, monitor the condition of co-workers and relatives. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. Routinely check on the very young, as well as the elderly during a heat wave.

In cases where hours in the sun are unavoidable, residents should keep watch for warning signs that someone may be in need of emergency care.

First, there are levels of heat-related illnesses: heat rash, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Some factors that increase one's risk of developing heat-related illness include:

• high levels of humidity

• obesity

• fever

• dehydration

• prescription drug use

• heart disease

• mental illness

• poor circulation

• sunburn

• alcohol use

Older adults, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk, the CDC reports. But, even young and healthy people can be affected if they do any type of strenuous physical activities during hot weather.

A crisis similar to heat stroke is heat exhaustion. A person may become cold, pale, have clammy skin, muscle cramps and/or be dizzy, tired, nauseated. Heavy sweating, fainting and headache are also among symptoms.

Signs of heat stroke — a 911 emergency — include red, hot and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; nausea; confusion; or acting strangely.

Hot cars among highest vehicle-related killers of children in the U.S.

Outside of crashes, heat stroke is the number one vehicle-related killer of children in the United States.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, nearly 900 children have died of heatstroke since 1998 because they were left or became trapped in a hot car.

“As outside temperatures rise, the risk of children dying from vehicular heatstroke increases,” TFI child welfare agency Senior Vice President Rachelle Roosevelt said. “One child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days in the United States from being left in a car or crawling into an unlocked vehicle. What is most tragic is that every single one of these deaths could have been prevented.”

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.