KOSCIUSKO COUNTY – High temperatures are predicted in Indiana over the next several days and into the coming weekend. With even higher heat indexes, which is how hot the temperature feels to the human body when humidity is taken into account, the risks for heat-related illnesses increase significantly.
Emergency medical professionals are encouraging Hoosiers to take heat-safety precautions.
“With high humidity, the body cannot effectively cool itself, which can lead to higher instances of heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” said Dr. Michael Olinger, State Emergency Medical Services Director with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. “These can be life-threatening conditions and Hoosiers should take precautions to protect themselves as well as their families and neighbors.”
Heat exhaustion occurs when a person cannot replenish the amount of hydration lost during extended periods of sweating. Heat stroke occurs when a person’s internal temperature regulation system fails. During times of high humidity, the body’s perspiration does not evaporate as efficiently, limiting the ability of the body to cool itself and making it easier to overheat.
Olinger suggested Hoosiers be aware of heat-illness symptoms, know how to prevent such problems, and take action right away if problems occur.
Prevent heat problems:
- Water: Drink plenty of water. Avoid carbonated or alcoholic beverages.
- Rest: Take frequent breaks during outdoor activities and try to avoid activities during the hottest part of the day.
- Shade: Stay indoors to limit exposure to the sun.
- Cool: Hoosiers without access to air conditioning are more at risk for heat injury, especially on humid days. Take steps to stay cool, such as visiting a local library or another public building with air conditioning. Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
Watch for symptoms:
- Dizziness, nausea, fatigue
- Cool, clammy or flushed skin
- Profuse sweating or absence of sweating
- Raised body temperature
- Muscle cramps
Act quickly if heat illness is suspected:
- Don’t hesitate to call 911
- Use ice packs or cold wash cloths to help bring down body temperatures
- Provide non-carbonated sports drinks when available
- Provide drinking water
- Move people to cooler areas and have them rest
- Bring pets inside during hot weather (some local laws may even require it)
- Make sure pets have plenty of water
- Don’t leave pets in vehicles, even for a minute
For more heat safety tips, visit www.GetPrepared.in.gov.