Eskenazi Health Urges Caution Ahead of Upcoming Heat Wave

An early season heat wave will hit Central Indiana this week with residents being warned to take extra caution when spending time outside or in cars.

Weather forecasts for this week indicate temperatures in the mid-90s are in our near future, which would be the first time this year reaching that high. Eskenazi Health emergency physicians have a number of suggestions designed to help keep you cool, comfortable and safe whether working or playing outside.

Dangerous heat strokes are all too common when it gets unusually hot outside, and they occur when the body can no longer control its temperature. During brutally hot conditions, the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death if the person does not receive emergency treatment.

Heat strokes can be prevented by avoiding long exposure to the sun especially from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., which is the hottest period of the day. Spending too much time in sweltering heat and humidity, along with dehydration, may create an extremely hazardous situation.

“Maintaining a normal level for your body’s core temperature is of paramount importance when it’s really hot outside, and that will help you avoid the dangers associated with heat stroke,” said Tyler Stepsis, M.D., medical director of the Michael & Susan Smith Emergency Department at Eskenazi Health. “While you’re taking good care of yourself, we encourage you to also take the time to check on those you may know who are especially young or old to ensure they’re doing what’s necessary to avoid potentially harmful – and sometimes fatal – injuries due to extreme heat.”

Here are some helpful tips to avoid heat stroke and heat exhaustion:

  • Drink more water than usual, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
  • Never leave children or pets in a parked car. Leave pets plenty of water in shade.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and wear light-colored clothing.
  • Pace yourself while working or exercising in hot weather.
  • If it’s too hot in your home, take a cool bath or shower.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, go to the mall or library, or find a cooling shelter.
  • Monitor those more likely to become ill from the heat: babies, young children, and older adults.
  • Check your local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips.

Dr. Stepsis said symptoms leading to heat exhaustion include a lack of strength and energy, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, heavy sweating, pale and/or clammy skin, a weak pulse, muscle cramps, and fainting. Heat stroke symptoms include an altered state and any of the following symptoms: throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing, body temperature above 103° F, lack of sweating, rapid and strong pulse, fainting and losing consciousness.

If you or someone you’re with begins to experience heat stroke symptoms, seek medical attention immediately by calling 911. Get to a cool, shaded place, remove unnecessary clothing, cool the body by spraying it with cool water and hydrate.

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