Warning signs of heat illness and how to avoid them - WNEM TV 5

Warning signs of heat illness and how to avoid them

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MICHIGAN, (WNEM) -

Summer weather means getting outside and having fun or working in the yard, but too much heat can make you sick. 

With high heat and humidity forecasted this weekend, it’s important you know the signs of heat illness including heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.

“Your body normally cools itself as your sweat evaporates, but during extremely hot weather, when the humidity is high, sweat can't evaporate very well. These conditions can cause the temperature of your body to become dangerously high,” according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Temperatures over the weekend are expected to climb into the middle and upper 80s on Saturday and into the lower and middle 90s over the weekend. 

Those temperatures are hot enough on their own, but when combined with the expected levels of humidity, it will feel much hotter. Heat index values on Sunday afternoon could approach the upper 90s to low 100s at their peak.

Experts warn high body temperatures can cause severe illness or even death. There are four different types of heat illness.

Let’s break them down:

Heatstroke

Heat Stroke is the most severe of all heat-related illnesses.  It can occur when your body temperature rises very quickly. 

Warnings signs include body temperature above 103 Fahrenheit, red, hot, dry skin with no sweating, a rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heatstroke, but still serious. It can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures, combined with not getting enough fluids to replace what your body sweats.

Warning signs include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache and nausea or vomiting.

Heat cramps

Heat cramps are pains or spasms from heat that can occur as sweating lowers the salt and fluids in your body.  If you experience heat/muscle cramps, stop all activity and rest in a cool place.  Drink clear juice or a sports beverage to replace lost fluids and minerals. See a doctor if the cramps do not stop in one-hour.

Sunburn

Severe sunburns can cause fever, blistering and severe pain. Seek medical attention if an infant under the age of one year is affected by sunburn, or if you experience symptoms of severe sunburn.

The MDHHS says infants and young children, people 65 years of age and older, people who are overweight and people with chronic medical condition are at greater risk for heat illness.

Here are some ways to stay healthy during extreme temperatures: 

  • Keep cool indoors. Use an air conditioner or go to a cool place such as the basement, a neighbor's house, shopping mall or cooling center. Even a few hours in the air conditioning will help you stay cool when you go back into the heat. Electric fans provide comfort, but they will not keep you cool when the temperature is in the high 90's. 
  • Take a cool shower or bath
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, don't wait until you are thirsty (*warning:  you should check with your doctor first if he or she has limited your fluid intake for medical reasons, such as with kidney disease).  Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks such as pop. These beverages may actually dehydrate you even more.
  • Avoid exercise and physical activity during the hottest time of the day.   Mornings and evenings are usually cooler than mid-day.  If you must exercise, drink 2-4 glasses of cool, non-alcoholic beverages every hour. Sports beverages can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
  • Stay out of the sun. Wear sun protective clothing like a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and apply a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB protectant) sunscreen SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going outside to protect yourself against sunburn.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors at least once a day during times of extreme heat.  Help them get to a cool place if necessary.
  • NEVER leave children, the elderly, or pets in parked cars. Cars heat up very quickly and can become dangerously hot, even with the windows open.
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