Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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July 30, 2006

Prevent Heat-Related Illness

Kathleen Smith, Public Health Director for the Oswego County Health Department, today warned people in Oswego County to drink plenty of fluid and take other steps to prevent heat-related illness.

Even people who are physically fit can suffer heat-related illness, Smith said. Infants and young children, people over age 65, and people with chronic respiratory illnesses are at greater risk of suffering health problems in hot and humid weather. She encourages residents to call or check in on elderly relatives and neighbors during this heat wave.

Heat stroke occurs when a person's body temperature goes over 105 degrees Fahrenheit. If you think someone has heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Smith offers these suggestions to help keep comfortable and prevent heat-related illness during hot and humid weather:
  • Drink plenty of fluid. Don't wait until you are thirsty to drink. Water is best because it replenishes your body's natural fluids. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or use an umbrella. Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Don't eat a lot of food high in protein; it increases your body heat.
  • If you need to do physical activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. Try not to go outside during the hottest part of the day - between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Stay indoors in a cool or air-conditioned place.
  • Never leave a person or pet in a parked vehicle, even if you expect it to be a short period of time.

A person may not have heat or sun stroke, but can experience heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Heat exhaustion symptoms include cold, pale, clammy skin, fainting and vomiting. Move the person to an area out of the direct sunlight and put a washcloth or towel with cool water on the back of their neck or forehead. Give them water every 15 minutes for one hour.

Heat cramps are painful spasms in the legs and abdomen. To relieve heat cramps, apply pressure on the cramping muscles or gently massage them. As in the case of heat exhaustion, give the person sips of water every 15 minutes for one hour.

Smith said people with questions should contact their health care provider.

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