While most of the country is still awaiting summer’s arrival, here in Central Florida we are already in shorts and sandals. Summer in Florida can be a wonderful time of the year, but it’s important to take precautions when the mercury soars. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, nearly 7,000 people die in the U.S. each year from heatstroke. Victims range in age from the very young to the very old, with heat illness striking young healthy athletes in disproportionate numbers. While it’s not necessary to lock yourself indoors from May through October, it is important to know the signs of heat illness, as well as how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include extremely elevated body temperature (over 103 degrees Fahrenheit), skin that is hot and red, a strong rapid pulse, and, in some cases, loss of consciousness. If you believe that someone near you is experiencing a heat stroke it is critical that you call 911 immediately. While you’re waiting for help to arrive, move the person someplace cooler and apply cool compresses to lower their body temperature. If you suspect heatstroke do NOT give fluids.
Heat exhaustion is characterized by sweating, weakness and nausea, as well as cold, clammy skin and possible fainting. As with heatstroke, move the person to a cooler spot immediately. Loosen clothing, apply cool compresses, and offer small sips of water to decrease their temperature. If they are vomiting, call 911 or get them to the nearest emergency room or urgent care as soon as possible.
Protect Yourself from Heat-Related Illnesses
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer some great tips for preventing heat-related illnesses. These include staying indoors during the hottest times of the day, drinking lots of water BEFORE you feel thirsty, and using fans to circulate the air. Clothing selection should be light in color, lightweight, and loose fitting. If you must be outside during the midday hours, limit exercise, drink several glasses of water or a sports drink each hour, avoid alcohol, rest in the shade when possible, and wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Even on cloudy or overcast days, you can still end up with a serious sunburn, so apply sunscreen every few hours. A hat with a wide brim functions both to keep the direct sun off your face and to provide shade from the sun’s rays.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms of heat-related illness, the doctors and staff at the Bond Clinic are ready to help. Our Urgent Care is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm, and on weekends from 9 am to 4 pm. Give us a call at 863-293-1191 or visit us online today.