Statement as issued Friday by the Indiana State Department of Health’s:
INDIANAPOLIS – State and national weather forecasters are issuing excessive heat warnings throughout Indiana as temperatures are expected to exceed 100 degrees for the next two days. Conditions of extreme heat are defined as summertime temperatures that are substantially hotter and/or more humid than average for location at that time of year.
Statewide, nearly 1.5 percent of all emergency department visits for July 4 & 5 were heat-related. State health officials say Hoosiers should take all precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke, which can happen quickly.
“With temperatures soaring the past several days and more hot weather coming, it is important that people take heat safety seriously,” said Joan Duwve, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at the Indiana State Department of Health. “You can stay cool and safe by staying hydrated, wearing light, breathable clothing, and avoiding physically overexerting yourself.”
To avoid heat related health problems, State Health officials recommends the following:
• Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks as they can cause you to lose more body fluid.
• Stay in an air-conditioned shelter during the hottest parts of the day. Schedule outdoor activities for early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.
• If you do not have air conditioning, go to a public location that is air-conditioned, even if just for a few hours. This can help keep your body temperature from going up too high. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
• While using electric fans can provide some comfort, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Take a cool shower or bath to help cool down.
• Wear breathable, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
• Close shades, blinds and curtains in rooms exposed to direct sunlight.
• Never leave children, elderly or disabled persons or pets in parked cars, even with windows cracked open. Temperatures in parked cars can rise to dangerous levels within minutes.
• If you must go outside, use water-resistant sunscreen or sun block that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher and provides broad-spectrum coverage against both UVA and UVB light and reapply as directed. Wear a shirt and hat and use sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection.
• Check on home-bound and elderly family members and neighbors several times a day to make sure they are staying hydrated and not exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
“Some areas of the state have established heat-relief shelters and cooling stations,” said Dr. Duwve. “Anyone who does not have access to air conditioning today or into the weekend should contact their local health department to find a heat relief shelter in their county.”
Health officials caution that overexposure to the heat is a serious health concern. The elderly, young children, athletes and outdoor workers are at a greater risk for heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It is important to recognize the signs of heat-related illness.
Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains in the abdomen, legs, and arms that occur from strenuous activity and increased sweating. Heat exhaustion can develop after several days of high temperatures and low fluid intake.
Heat exhaustion: Symptoms include profuse sweating, weakness, nausea, vomiting, headaches and muscle cramps. Heat cramps and heat exhaustion can both be treated by recognizing the symptoms, moving the individual to a cooler environment and rehydrating with water or a sports drink. If not treated, heat exhaustion may lead to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition in which the body is unable to regulate its temperature and cannot cool itself down.
Heat stroke: Individuals with heat stroke will have high temperatures, stop sweating and become confused. They may suffer from seizures or coma. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate transport to a hospital for treatment. Heat stroke can be fatal if not properly treated.
For more information about protecting yourself during extreme temperatures, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety” at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp.
To visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website, go to www.StateHealth.in.gov.