Mason County News
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Family Times
Keeping Your Cool
Wednesday, June 6, 2012 • Posted June 6, 2012

Last week, I helped cater an event as a 4-H Fundraiser out in the heat and I ended up getting dehydrated and sick. This was the first time this has ever happened to me, and it brought to mind the importance of avoiding heat exhaustion.

Heat stroke is a deadly illness that should be avoided at all costs, and if you take care of yourself it should be easy to avoid. From young, healthy athletes to infants and the elderly, it can happen to anyone. Heat stroke is an injury to internal organs caused by an excessively high body temperature. It can cause brain damage or even death.

There are two forms- classic or activity-induced heatstroke. Classic heatstroke most often effects infants and the elderly, so be sure to pay special attention to keeping them cool in the upcoming months. People with a chronic disease or on certain medications can also be more susceptible, as are those who drink large amounts of caffeine or alcohol.

Activity induced heatstroke most effects athletes or outdoor laborers, who often are out of doors in heavy clothing or uniforms.

An outdoor temperature of 95 or above with at least 70 percent humidity makes heat illnesses much more likely. The symptoms to look out for are muscle cramping, pale, moist skin, dizziness, headache, nausea, increased hart rate, low blood pressure, elevated temperature, and profuse sweating.

I believe this was what happened to me- I drank tea all morning, and not much water, and by the end of the day I had a headache so bad that it made me extremely nauseous and sick. You need to get this person out of the heat and give them rest and lots of fluids, preferably containing sugar and salt. This is heat exhaustion- and if you don’t cool this person off and hydrate them, they could develop full blown heat stroke. The symptoms for heat stroke are similar but even more elevated, and if the person stops sweating and has a high fever then you must call 911. Then move them to a cool place, remove heavy clothing, fan the body and cool it down with a cool sponge or cloth, and encourage the individual to drink cool fluids.

To PREVENT all of this from happening, you should drink a quart of fluids an hour (water is best unless you are going to be exercising or overheated for an hour or more, and then an electrolyte drink is appropriate), wear loose, light colored clothing, and stay as cool as possible. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which speed up dehydration.

Lastly, be a good neighbor- check on elderly or chronically ill neighbors to make sure they are keeping cool.

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