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FOR RELEASE: July 20, 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Health Officials Offer Heat Safety Tips

High temperatures may be here to stay, at least for the rest of the summer. To be on the safe side, local citizens should begin to take precautions to protect their health against the heat. Prolonged exposure and physical activity in high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses that may cause heat stroke or death, according to health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

The ability to adapt to the heat varies individually. At particular risk are the elderly, who may not be able to adjust to increases in air temperatures, or who take medicines that decrease their ability to deal with heat. Heat precautions are also advised for persons with heart, lung or kidney problems; infants and young children; and persons whose occupations require them to work outdoors.

To reduce the potential for health hazards, OSDH would like to offer the following heat safety tips:

  • Reduce your activity level and seek a cooler environment. Plan strenuous outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day.
  • If outdoors, don’t forget to use a sunscreen and take frequent breaks when working outdoors.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle during hot weather.
  • Drink plenty of fluids such as water, fruit and vegetable juices. Avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine or large amounts of sugar.
  • Eat more frequently but make sure meals are well balanced and light and avoid hot foods and heavy meals.
  • Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight and allow your body to maintain normal temperatures.
  • Cool the body by taking cool baths or showers. Apply wet towels, or wear damp clothing.
  • Avoid bundling babies in heavy blankets or heavy clothing.
  • Keep air circulating through the use of air conditioners, fans or open window. Air circulation is important because it carries heat away from the body.
  • If you take medications, ask your physician if they are likely to interfere with your ability to sweat.
  • Ask a physician or pharmacist about the effects of sun and heat exposure if taking prescription medications such as diuretics, antihistamines, mood-altering or antispasmodic drugs.
  • Stay indoors in an air-conditioned environment as much as possible unless your heat tolerance is well established. If air conditioning is not available, pull shades over windows and use fans to cool rooms. Open windows on opposite sides of a room for cross ventilation.
  • Check frequently on ill or elderly friends, relatives and neighbors who may need help.

“If you experience signs of heat stress such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, throbbing headache, dry skin (no sweating), chest pain, great weakness, mental changes, breathing problems, or vomiting, please contact your health care provider immediately,” said OSDH Emergency Medical Service Director Shawn Rogers.

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