Beware of Heat Stroke!
By Patty Liston
Like most of the country this summer, temperatures where I live are hitting the triple digits. As a result, we have heard news reports of people, especially children and the elderly, suffering from heat stroke. This dangerous situation occurs when the temperatures are high and there has been inadequate liquid intake to rehydrate the body.
What is heat stroke?
Excessive heat causes our body to perspire more than usual. This leads to the loss of essential fluids needed to keep our organs alive. As our core body temperature rises above its normal 98.6 degrees we perspire more, a safety mechanism our body uses to keep itself cool. As we perspire we begin to lose fluid and essential electrolytes. If we don't keep hydrating ourselves by drinking water - sodas and alcohol deplete essential nutrients - we may very well find ourselves suffering from heat stroke.
Heat stroke is more than feeling hot. It is a medical emergency that can be life threatening if our body temperature hits 104 degrees or higher. Damage to our heart, kidneys, muscles and brain may occur as well as death.
According to Dr. Geraldo Kumin, of Naples, Florida, early symptoms include a feeling of fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness and/or muscle cramps. The person may not be sweating much and their skin will feel dry and may look red. Should any of these symptoms occur, it is wise to go to your doctor or, if everything happens at once, go to an emergency room.
Don't exercise or spend excessive time outside when temperatures soar
Keep children and the elderly well hydrated
Don't forget your pets! Keep them inside with plenty of cool water available
If you have a basement, do down there where it is cooler
Get a used air conditioner that can be put in one room of your home that will remain cool
Buy a good fan. I had a friend who sat in front of her fan, eating ice-cream, with her feet in a bucket of water. Worked great!
Purchase a kiddie pool at a discount store. Let the children - and you! - play in it to keep cool
Take cool showers if possible, several times a day when you begin to feel over-heated
Take an umbrella with you when you go outside to protect you from the sun
NEVER leave a child in a car
Check on widows, widowers and the elderly who may be living in your neighborhood to make sure they are alright
Purchase a neck cooler like the one shown.
These are soaked in water and placed in the freezer for several hours, then put around the neck for an instant cool-down
It stands to reason: stay in the shade
If someone suffers a heat stroke
Have them lie down out of the sun
Fan them with whatever is available
Give them sips of water or sports drinks with electrolytes to drink: no sodas, alcohol or drugs!
Cool them down with water: put them in a shower or bath-tub, wrap them in a wet sheet, pour water on their body, spray them with a garden hose
Call 9-1-1 immediately