Nurse’s Corner

(Plain Press, August 2006) During periods of high temperature (90 degrees Fahrenheit and above) and humidity, there are things everyone, particularly people at high risk, should do to lessen the chances of heat illness.

Try to stay cool.
Stay in air-conditioned areas if possible.  If you do not have air conditioning at home, go to a shopping mall or public library.
Keep windows shut and draperies, shades, or blinds drawn during the heat of the day.
Open windows in the evening or night hours when the air outside is cooler.
Move to cooler rooms in your home during the heat of the day.
Avoid overexertion and outdoor activity, particularly during warmer periods of the day.
Apply sunscreen and lotion as needed.
Drink plenty of fluids (avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol).
Dress in loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.  Wear a hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing.
Take a cool shower or bath.
Lose weight if you are overweight.
Eat regular meals to ensure that you have adequate salt and fluids.


Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Heavy sweating
Paleness
Muscle cramps
Tiredness
Weakness, Dizziness, Headache
Nausea, Vomiting
Fainting


Immediate Treatment
If a person displays symptoms of heat exhaustion, he or she should be:

Moved to a cooler place as soon as possible
Give water or other liquids (avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol) immediately; there is no need for salt
Encouraged to rest for a short time
Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
Loosen or remove clothing
Heat Stroke
This occurs mostly during heat waves.  Persons with chronic illnesses are most vulnerable.  Heat stroke, the most common serious heat illness, can lead to death if left untreated.
Warning Sign of Heat Stroke
Confusion, dizziness, nausea, unconsciousness
High body temperature (103 degrees Fahrenheit or above)
Rapid, strong pulse
Throbbing headache
Red, hot, and dry skin


Treatment

As soon as you recognize the signs of heat stroke, take immediate action:
Call 911 immediately
Loosen or remove clothing
Move to a cooler place as soon as possible
Cool the victim using cool water
Do not give the victim alcohol to drink
If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the emergency room for further direction.
     
Nurse’s Corner is provided by WILLCARE as a community service. For more information on heat-related illness or ways to stay cool during the summer months, contact your WILLCARE home care nurse at 216-289-5300 or visit us on the web at www.willcare.com.

 

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