Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D. is reminding people during the hot summer months about the importance of staying cool to avoid heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“Hot weather can cause heat-related illness which ranges in severity from relatively mild heat cramps to life-threatening heat stroke. It’s important for people to recognize the signs of heat-related illness and take action to prevent becoming sick,” said Director Shah. “Normally, the body cools itself by sweating. However, if temperatures and humidity are extremely high, sweating is not effective in maintaining the body’s normal temperature. If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, a person may suffer a heat-related illness, which can become serious or even deadly.”
An easy to read chart of heat-related illnesses, what to look for, and what to do is below.
Heat-related death or illnesses are preventable by following a few simple steps.
Stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, go to a public place such as a shopping mall or a library to stay cool. Cooling stations and senior centers are also available in many large cities for people of all ages. To find cooling centers in state facilities go to https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/KeepCool/SitePages/CoolingCenters.aspx.
Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
Drink water often. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities if you are outside or in a building without air-conditioning.
Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness. Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness.
Never leave anyone, including pets, alone in a closed, parked vehicle.
The air temperature inside a car rises rapidly during hot weather and can lead to brain damage or death.
—- Staying cool, and safe, during excessive heat —-