Take Precautions During Excessive Heat

With the mercury expected to reach the 90s and the heat index soaring near 100 later this week, physicians at the Cook County Health & Hospitals System urge you to take extra measures to stay cool.

“When we sweat in high heat and humidity, evaporation slows and the body has to work harder to maintain a normal temperature,” said Emergency Department physician Dr. Robert Feldman. “Your best defense against heat-related illness is prevention.”

Dr. Feldman suggests avoiding overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities. If you must be outdoors, wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible to prevent sunburn.  Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Consume plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.

Dr. Feldman encourages relatives and friends to make daily visits or calls to senior citizens living alone. Take advantage of cooling centers, public pools and air-conditioned stores and malls during periods of extreme heat.  If you are unable to get into air conditioning, take frequent showers or baths to help avoid heat illness from developing.  And absolutely do not leave children or pets in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes.  On a hot day the temperature inside a car can reach unsafe limits in just minutes.

Early signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Thirst
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Cold and clammy feeling, while still sweating

Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke. Symptoms include:

  • Hot and flushed skin, but no sweating
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Unable to walk in straight line
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Rapid pulse
  • Potential loss of consciousness

“Listen to your body. If you feel overheated, confused or lightheaded, get into shade or preferably air conditioning immediately,” said Dr. Feldman. “If symptoms persists, seek medical attention.”

Contact:
Kim Waterman, Communications Manager
312.864.3912 (o)
312.405.7474 (c)
kwaterman@cookcountyhhs.org