The health departments of Racine County urge residents to protect themselves from heat-related illness. The National Weather Service forecasts temperatures to be in the triple digits this week. Most heat-related illnesses involve the elderly or individuals who have chronic illnesses, but also at risk are children, athletes and outdoor workers.
“We ask everyone to take precautions to avoid heat exhaustion, and to check on their family, friends and neighbors who may be especially vulnerable to extreme heat,” said Margaret Gesner, Health Officer of the Central Racine County Health Department and Dottie-Kay Bowersox, Public Health Administrator for the City of Racine Health Department. “Infants, young children, older adults and people with chronic disease have a tougher time regulating their body temperature. Please help them stay cool and hydrated.”
Risks associated with a heat wave include:
• Heat cramps
This includes muscular pains and spasms resulting from heavy exertion. These symptoms are often the first signal that the body is suffering from excessive heat.
• Heat exhaustion
This includes fainting, rash, fatigue, and nausea. Skin may become clammy and moist.
• Heat/Sun Stroke
Symptoms include: hot, dry skin, the absence of sweat, nausea, confusion, and unconsciousness. This is a life-threatening condition.
To prevent risks from excessive heat, individuals should do the following:
• Seek air-conditioning: If your home does not have air-conditioning, seek areas that do-such as libraries, shopping malls, community/senior centers, grocery stores, movie theatres-during the warmest period of the day. If you must stay in a home without air-conditioning, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. For a complete list of Extreme Heat Cooling Centers in Racine County please access the health department website or call directly using the contact information provided below.
• Avoid strenuous activities: This is particularly true during the hottest time of the day. Individuals who perform strenuous work during the heat of the day are especially at risk.
• Wear light-weight, light-colored clothing: Light colors reflect the sun’s rays better than dark colors, which absorb the heat. Protect the face and head with a wide-brimmed hat.
• Check on family members, neighbors and friends who are vulnerable. Move them to air conditioned places if possible.
• Drink plenty of fluids: Increase fluid intake even if you are not thirsty.
• Never leave pets or people, especially children and infants, unattended in cars during a heat wave
If heat risks do occur, cool the body as soon as possible, and call 9-1-1 for symptoms of heat stroke.
For a list of cooling sites throughout Racine County please visit your health department’s website.