Since 2001 Arkansas has recorded between five and 23 heat-related deaths each summer according to the state Health Department. Health officials call hot temperatures and high humidity “a dangerous mix that contributes to illness and death each year.”

 



Since 2001 Arkansas has recorded between five and 23 heat-related deaths each summer according to the state Health Department. Health officials call hot temperatures and high humidity “a dangerous mix that contributes to illness and death each year.”



The ADH reports that the U.S. averages 400 heat-related deaths every year. A total of 716 heat-related deaths occurred during the 1995 Midwest heat wave. The heat wave of 1980 was a particularly tough one for Arkansas when 153 heat-related deaths were reported.



The elderly, people with health problems and very young children are the most vulnerable to heat problems, it can affect anyone – even strong, healthy athletes. When core body heat gain exceeds the amount it can get rid of the body’s natural defense system fails and heat-related illness may develop.



The following heat disorders are progressive and should be attended to immediately:



•Heat cramps. This is prolonged muscular pain caused by severe salt depletion due to heavy sweating. Treatment includes salt replacement, cooling down and gentle massage.



•Heat exhaustion. The most common heat-related illness and frequently occurs when the person is working outside or attending outside events in extremely hot, humid weather. The victim may complain of weakness of feel faint. Other symptoms include dizziness, nausea, headache and confusion. The person should be moved to a cooler place, and wet cloths applied to cool them down. The person should be moved to a cooler place and wet clothes applied for cooling down. Fluid and salt should be replaced. Depending on the severity of the illness, hospitalization and intravenous fluid replacement may be necessary. The condition usually occurs just before heat stroke.



•Heat stroke (also called sunstroke). This is a life-threatening condition in which the victim’s temperature-control system fails. Sweating stops completely and the body’s temperature can rise so high that the nervous system, the brain and other organs can be permanently damaged. Death may occur is the body is not cooled quickly. The symptoms of heat stroke include sudden high fever, dry skin, delirium, convulsions and seizures.



Heat stroke is a medical emergency– call 911 and cool the person as fast as you can. Ice, a cold bath, and wet sheets are recommended until medical help arrives.



Those who work, exercise or participate in strenuous activity, such as football practice, for an hour or more during intense heat may lose or sweat up to two quarts of water.



If you must purse intense activity during hot weather, follow these safety tips:



–Drink plenty of water; fluid replacement is vital to avoid heat risks.



–Drink more water than usual before exercising or working in the heat. If you are elderly or taking medication, ask your doctor about fluid intake recommendations.



–Schedule your strenuous activity during the coolest time of the day.



–Monitor how you feel. If you have difficulty maintaining your regular pace, slow down.



Elderly people should avoid being cooped up indoors without air conditioning. The ADH reported that more than half of the 700 heat-related deaths in the 1995 Chicago heat wave could have been prevented with an air conditioner in the home. Studies show that fans are apparently not effective against heat illness during intense heat waves. If you cannot afford an air conditioner in your home, spend more time in other air-conditioned environments.