According to the National Weather Service in Charleston, temperatures are set to reach a high of 96 degrees today and the heat will continue through Sunday as temperatures are set to be in the high 80s.
To stay safe in the hot summer sun and avoid heat stroke, the Mason County Health Department encourages residents to take the proper precautions. According to the health department, heat stroke is a condition where the body’s cooling system fails causing the core body temperature to rise uncontrollably. While the exact cause is unknown, heat stroke often comes on quick and can be fatal. Those who are most at risk for heat stroke include infants, young children, the elderly and the mentally ill. In addition, those who are already physically unhealthy are more susceptible to heat-related injuries.
In some circumstances humans can produce up to a half gallon of sweat each hour as the body works to cool itself by sweating. According to the health department, it is essential that the water loss from sweat be replaced by frequently drinking fluids. Lack of fluid in the body can lead to dehydration. When dehydrated, a person is unable to sweat efficiently, which also leads to increased risk of heat stroke. The health department urges residents to drink fluids throughout the day rather than waiting until they are thirsty. Drinks should be limited to non-alcoholic and low sugar beverages in order to avoid even higher water loss.
According to the health department, symptoms of heat stroke include dry skin that is both red and hot; high body temperature; rapid pulse; dizziness; nausea; dry swollen tongue; headache; lethargy; stupor; and unconsciousness. The health department urges residents to immediately lie down in a shaded area and drink cool fluids if any heat stoke symptoms occur. In addition, the health department encourages those with heat stroke symptoms to call 911 for emergency assistance and to remove as much clothing as possible to expose skin to air. When helping someone who is suffering from potential heat stroke, the health department suggests to cool victims by flushing the skin with cool water and to apply ice packs to the victim’s head, neck, underarms and groin until professional help arrives. However, do not cause the victim to shiver as shivering results in raised internal body temperature.
Other ways to stay safe this summer and to reduce the risk of heat stroke include limiting outdoor activities to morning and evening as well as taking frequent rest periods. According to the health department, those who must be out in the afternoon should wear loose, lightweight clothing and stick to shady areas. Heavy outdoor physical activity also should be avoided.
For more information on how to stay safe this summer, call the health department at 304-675-3050.