RIDOH urges precautions to prevent heat-related Illness

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) urges all Rhode Islanders to protect themselves against the elevated heat indexes forecasted for the coming week with a few simple health precautions.

Heat indexes above 90 degrees are expected from Sunday through the Fourth of July. 

“Extreme heat can be quite dangerous, particularly for our young and elderly Rhode Islanders,” said Director Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “It’s important to check on each other, stay well hydrated, limit exposure to heat, and to be vigilant for signs of heat-related illness.”

To protect yourself and your family from heat-related illness, take the following precautions:

– Drink more fluids than usual, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids.

– Avoid alcohol or liquids that contain high amounts of sugar.

– Check on friends and neighbors, particularly those who are caring for young children and those who are elderly.

– Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, head to a community-based cooling center, such as a shopping mall or library, if possible.

– Stay out of the sun. Find a shaded area where you can sit and relax, particularly during the hottest parts of the day.

– Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Add a hat if you must be outside.

– Limit outdoor activities, especially at mid-day. If you exercise outdoors, move your workout to a morning or evening time, take it indoors to an air-conditioned environment, or try swimming, which is a great summer exercise. If you work outside, wear sunscreen (re-apply frequently), pace your activity, stay hydrated, and check on co-workers.

– Take cool showers or baths to cool down, particularly if you’re unable to be in an air-conditioned location.

– Avoid turning on your oven, if possible. It will make your house hotter.

– Never leave young children or pets in parked cars, even with the windows down.

Heat-related illness, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, are of particular concern during periods of extreme heat. Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale or clammy skin, a fast or weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, and fainting.

Individuals who have symptoms of heat exhaustion should move to a cooler location, lie down, loosen clothing, sip water, and apply cool, wet cloths to help cool the body down. Seek medical attention if vomiting begins, or if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.

Heat stroke symptoms include high body temperature (above 103 degrees F), combined with hot, red, dry or moist skin, rapid and strong pulse, confusion, and losing consciousness (passing out). Heat stroke is a medical emergency and 911 should be called immediately.

Individuals experiencing heat stroke symptoms should also be moved to a cooler environment. Apply cool cloths or place the person into a cool bath to lower body temperature.

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