Signs of Heat-Related Illness and Tips for Staying Cool

When the heat index shows that temperatures feel as hot as 90 to 103 degrees, the National Weather Service recommends that people use extreme caution if they are exposed to the heat or have to be active. Heat cramps, heat stroke or heat exhaustion can result.

The first sign of a heat-related illness could be muscle cramping, the NWS says.

Watch for the symptoms of heat exhaustion, which are heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale and clammy skin; a fast and weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting.

The remedies for heat exhaustion are to move to a cooler location; lie down and loosen clothing; apply cool, wet cloths to the body and sip water. If vomiting continues, seek medical attention immediately.

Symptoms of heat stroke include a body temperature above 103 degrees; dry or moist skin that is hot and red; a rapid and strong pulse; and possible unconsciousness.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency that can result in death; call 911 immediately. Move to a cooler location; cool the body with cloths or a bath; do not give fluids.

Heat combined with humidity impairs the body’s ability to cool itself. In areas that are not accustomed to these conditions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, people might not know how to stay safe.

Here are some tips:

— Drink plenty of water or other beverage without caffeine or alcohol.

— Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and a hat.

— Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit and salads.

— Spend time in a place with air conditioning, such as a shopping mall, movie theater or library.

— Slow down.

— Use an electric fan to exhaust hot air or draw in cooler air.

— Avoid sunburn, which reduces the body’s ability to dissipate heat. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside.

— Take a cool bath or shower.

— Check on older, sick or frail people.

— Do not leave children, disabled adults or pets in vehicles, even for a minute. Lock them out of parked or abandoned vehicles.

— Avoid being outside from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., especially for exercise.

 If you work outdoors:

— Allow more time to accomplish tasks and take frequent breaks in the shade.

— Schedule the most strenuous work in the morning.

— Build tolerance by gradually increasing workloads and allowing more frequent breaks for new workers or those who have been off for a week or more.

— Drink before feeling thirsty, preferably every 15 minutes.

— Freeze a few bottles of water to keep your water supply cool.

— If you run out of water, find some at a restaurant or shop.

— If urine is dark, drink more water.

— Wear sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection.

— Working in full sun adds 15 degrees to the heat index. Protective clothing can add to heat stress.

— Watch for symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and know what actions to take.

— Stop work if you feel overheated.

— To cool down quickly, apply cool wet cloths behind the neck and run forearms under cold water.

— If you think your working conditions are unsafe, or if you have been punished for raising health and safety concerns, report it within 30 days to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration by calling (800) 321-OSHA (6742).