Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken advises residents to take common sense precautions to avoid health related illness during periods of extreme heat as we are now experiencing.
In addition, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an ozone health advisory for the region today. All people, especially children, those who exercise or work outdoors and those with respiratory diseases or heart conditions should consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity during the afternoon and early evening hours.
“During normal weather, the body's internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, during periods of extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. If the body cannot cool itself, serious illness could result,” said Dr. Tomarken.
In order to protect yourself from heat related illness:
• Avoid strenuous activity.
• Avoid direct exposure to the sun, especially between the hours of 11 :00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
• Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid carbonated drinks, drinks containing caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar. Don't wait until you are thirsty to drink. If you must be active, drink two to four glasses of cool non-alcoholic fluids each hour.
• Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light colored clothing.
• Keep rooms well ventilated with fans and air conditioners. Do not keep your windows closed, if you do not have a fan or air conditioning.
• Cool down with cool temperature baths or showers.
• Participate in activities that will keep you cool, such as going to the movies, shopping in the mall, or going to the beach or pool.
• Never leave a person or animal alone in a closed parked vehicle.
• Check on elderly relatives or neighbors to be sure they remain well.
• Ensure pets have sufficient water.
Overexposure to high temperatures and humidity can quickly lead to heat exhaustion, which is caused by a loss of body fluids and salts through heavy perspiration. Symptoms include paleness, nausea, extreme fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, vomiting, fainting and cool clammy skin. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, the most severe form of heat related illness.
Heat stroke is a life threatening condition caused by a failure of the body's heat controlling mechanism. It need not be caused by exercise or exertion. High temperatures, lack of body fluids and over exposure to the elements can all bring about heat stroke. The first sign to look for in a victim is red flushed skin. Other signs include a body temperature of 105 degrees or higher, seizures, headache, rapid pulse, and unconsciousness. People suffering from heat stroke do not sweat, so it is critical they receive emergency care immediately to relieve the body of heat.
Individuals experiencing symptoms of heat stress should seek medical attention immediately.
Air quality forecasts are available on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/aqi/aqi_forecast.cfm
Information about ozone and health is available on the New York State Department of Health website: http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/air/ozone.htm