This may not be the hottest summer on record but with temperatures climbing into the upper 90s and heat indexes reaching triple-digits on more than one occasion, it certainly has been a very humid and uncomfortable one for most Phillips Countians. At the risk of being repetitive, The Helena World will continue to offer reminders for summer outdoor safety and tips to avoid heat-related illnesses on a regular basis.
So, here we go again.

This may not be the hottest summer on record but with temperatures climbing into the upper 90s and heat indexes reaching triple-digits on more than one occasion, it certainly has been a very humid and uncomfortable one for most Phillips Countians. At the risk of being repetitive, The Helena World will continue to offer reminders for summer outdoor safety and tips to avoid heat-related illnesses on a regular basis.

So, here we go again.

“Whether you are working, exercising or doing other activities it is important to protect yourself from heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” reports Sharon Martin, director of marketing for Helena Regional Medical Center.”

According to HRMC officials, you should be prepared when planning any outdoor activities. Be sure and check the temperature and the heat index. Plan outdoor activities for the cooler times of day – early morning and late afternoon.

“Spending time in cool, air conditioned areas is the best way to prevent heat illness,” said Dr. Seyed Ghanefar, HRMC hospitalist. “When you are in the heat be sure and wear loose, light-colored clothing and drink lots of water. Adults over 65, young children, people with existing medical problems and people without access to air conditioning are at a higher risk for suffering from heat-related illness.”

When the body cannot cool itself properly in extremely hot temperatures heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, rash and stroke occur. Heat stroke is the most severe. It can cause death or permanent disabilities without proper treatment. People having a higher risk for heat-related illnesses should be checked on frequently.

Never leave children or pets unattended in a car or outside in the heat for any reason. Temperatures inside vehicles can easily heat up to more than 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature in a relatively short period of time.

Warning signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, paleness, cold, and clammy skin; fast and weak pulse, nausea and vomiting. If you or someone near you is experiencing these symptoms take these steps: move to a cool location, lie down and loosen clothing, apply cold wet, cloths, sip water, and if vomiting seek immediate medical attention.

“Heat stroke occurs when someone has a high body temperature (above 103 degrees),” stated Dr. Ghanefar. “Signs of heat stroke include hot, red, dry or moist skin, rapid and strong pulse or possible unconsciousness.”

Heat stroke is considered an emergency. If some is experiencing the above symptoms take immediate action by: seeking medical attention by dialing 911, move the person to a cool location, reduce their body temperature with a cool bath or cloths.

Do not give fluids!

“If you do not have air conditioning in your home, spend time in public places, such as shopping malls, a public library or a heat-relief shelter during extremely hot weather,” concluded Dr. Ghanefar. “Even a few hours spent out of the heat can keep your body cool. Helena Regional Medical Center is always prepared to provide treatment for heat illness.”

Another group has joined the ranks of those at high risk for heat-related illness – football players. Many athletes have returned to the practice fields for the upcoming season.

“It is important to know how to stay safe while being active in the heat,” reports Dr. Barry Gilmore, medical director of emergency services at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.

According to Gilmore, heat stroke ranks third behind head and neck injuries and heart problems as a cause of death among U.S. high school athletes. Youngsters (especially younger ones) are more susceptible to heat problems because of such physiological factors as: a decreased ability to sweat, being slower to adjust to the higher temperatures, (taking four to seven sessions of one to four hours), and producing more heat for the same level of activity.

Gilmore suggested athletes and parents of athletes to take the following precautions:

•Watch the weather for heat warnings. Some suggest suspending activities when the heat index reaches 105 or greater.

•Encourage the drinking of plenty of fluids. Dehydration can build up over several days making athletes more sensitive to the heat when exercising.

•Advocate for your child if you feel it is too hot for them to practice.