The Milford Health Department urges all residents to take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses. Be aware that any sudden change in temperature, such as an early summer heat wave, will be stressful to your body. Gradual exposure to heat gives the body time to become accustomed to higher environmental temperatures. Heat-related illnesses in general are more likely to occur among people who have not been given time to adjust to extreme heat and who have gotten accustomed to lower temperatures. You will have a greater tolerance for heat if you limit your physical activity until you become accustomed to the heat. People suffer heat-related illness when the body's temperature control system is overloaded, and the body can no longer cool itself.
The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Staying cool and making simple changes in your fluid intake, activities, and clothing during hot weather can help you to remain safe and healthy.
The following precautions are advised at this time:
- Increase your fluid intake -- regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink fluids.
- Limit exercise in a hot environment, and drink 2-4 glasses of fruit juice or a sports beverage each hour.
- Avoid drinks containing caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar. Also avoid very cold beverages because they can cause stomach cramps.
- Stay indoors and, if possible, in an air-conditioned environment. If air conditioning is not available, consider a visit to air-conditioned places such as shopping malls, public libraries, and community centers for a few hours.
- Electric fans may be useful to increase comfort and to draw cool air into your home at night, but do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device during a heat wave. When the temperature is 90º or higher, a fan will not prevent heat-related illness. A cool shower or bath is a more effective way to cool off.
- If you must be out in the heat, try to plan your activities so that you are outdoors either before noon or in the evening. While outdoors, rest frequently in a shady area so that your body's thermostat has a chance to recover.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. When outdoors, a wide-brimmed hat will provide shade and keep the head cool.
- NEVER leave small children, pets, disabled or elderly individuals in a closed, parked vehicle.
- Provide pets with plenty of water and shade.
- Wear sunscreen to protect skin from the sun's harmful rays.
Check-up on family and neighbors who are at greatest risk of heat-related illness:
- Infants and children up to four years of age
- People 65 years of age or older
- People who are overweight
- People who are disabled or have chronic medical conditions
Warning signs of heat exhaustion include: heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and or fainting. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke is a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention. If you are having severe and persistent heat-related symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
For more information about heat, please visit the CDC website at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.asp .