As we approach the peak of summertime, high and potentially dangerous temperatures are predicted to blanket Elizabeth City and surrounding areas this month. According to ready.gov, extreme heat is a period of high heat and humidity above 90 degrees. Together, those factors can create notable health difficulties for vulnerable populations, including young children and the elderly. Elizabeth City State University Emergency Management Coordinator and Environmental Health and Safety Professional David Hill Jr., answered questions from the Office of Communications and Marketing about how communities can stay cool, hydrated and vigilant during peak portions of heat and humidity.
What are the dangers of being in extreme heat?
Extreme heat may lead to heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn, and even heat rash. It often results in the highest annual number of deaths among all weather-related disasters. The Centers for Disease Control has more information on warning signs.
If a person must be outside in extreme heat, what precautions should they take?
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, avoid strenuous activities, wear sunscreen (sunburn can cause dehydration), and avoid hot and heavy meals as they may add heat to the body. Also, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water and drinks with electrolytes. Find air conditioning, whenever possible, and take breaks often. Lastly, stay informed. Check campus alerts, and local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips. Continue to monitor family, friends, coworkers, and pets.
What are the signs that a person is overheated or suffering from some sort of heat-related reaction? Then, what should be done?
Signs that someone is having a heat-related reaction include heavy sweating, a fast, weak pulse, muscle cramps, cold, pale, and clammy skin and dizziness. Those who can help should call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Or, help them cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.
Are there particular demographics who are more susceptible to heat-related reactions and illness?
People at greatest risk for heat-related illnesses include infants and children up to 4-years-old, people 65 and older, as well as those who’re overweight or have existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Individuals who are socially isolated and poor are also at greater risk of heat-related illness because of a lack of housing and cooling options.
Can you suggest some resources to get more information about being safe in the heat?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a good place to get current information about being safe in the heat.