Public Health tips for hot weather safety

The folks at Public Health Seattle King County have offered the following tips for staying cool and healthy as the weather gets hotter:

KING COUNTY, WA – Hot weather, with temperatures in the 90s, are forecast for upcoming days and have prompted local health officials to urge residents to stay cool and safe while they enjoy summertime activities. Heat can lead to serious medical problems, particularly for older adults, young children, people with chronic illness, and people with weight or alcohol problems.

“The danger for heat–related illnesses rises when outside temperatures are very high,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Fortunately, all of us can prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke with some simple steps.”

Protect yourself and your loved ones from heat exhaustion and heat stroke by following these recommendations:

Stay cool

  • Spend more time in air conditioned places. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider visiting a mall, movie theater or other cool public places.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.
  • Dress in lightweight clothing.
  • Check up on your elderly neighbors and relatives.

Drink liquids

  • Drink plenty of water or non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

If you go outside

  • Limit your direct exposure to the sun.
  • Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges and pets in a parked car, even with the window rolled down.
  • Avoid or reduce strenuous activity.
  • Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

Check with your physician if you are concerned about heat and the specific medications you are taking. Certain medications may increase sensitivity to the heat. Do not take salt tablets unless directed to by a physician.

Recognizing heat exhaustion and heat stroke 

Overheating occurs when people’s bodies are not able to cool themselves quickly enough and can lead to symptoms of heat exhaustion, including muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting. If you notice someone with signs of overheating, move the person to a cooler location, have them rest for a few minutes and slowly drink a cool beverage. Seek medical attention for them immediately if they do not feel better.

In severe instances, people can suffer heat stroke, which can cause can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.  Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • red, hot, and dry skin
  • rapid, strong pulse
  • nausea, confusion and unconsciousness

For more tips and resources on staying cool in hot weather, visit www.kingcounty.gov/health/BeatTheHeat

Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health – Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day. More at www.kingcounty.gov/health.