Overview

Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, however, many people still suffer from extreme heat. People undergo heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to properly cool themselves.


Basics

Extreme heat is defined as summertime temperatures that are increasingly hotter and/or more humid than average for location and time of year.

What follows are some of the common concerns associated with extreme heat and what you can do to protect yourself and loved ones.

For guidance on when to cancel and indoor event or move indoors, see Guidance Outdoor Activities in Excessive Heat Final

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. During a heat stroke, the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.  

Recognizing Heat Stroke
  • A body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Red, hot and dry skin that is not sweating A rapid, strong pulse
  • A throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

If you see any of these signs, have someone call for immediate medical assistance.


Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate replacement of fluids. The result is heat exhaustion which is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water and salt that comprises sweat. Those prone to heat exhaustion are the elderly, people with high blood pressure and people working or exercising in a hot environment.  

Recognizing Heat Exhaustion
  • Excessive sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps/aches
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

Seek medical attention is any of these symptoms are severe.


Heat Cramps

Heat cramps tend to affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. Such sweating reduces the body's salt and moisture levels. Low salt levels are usually the cause of heat cramps along with a symptom of heat exhaustion.

  • Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms that usually occur in the abdomen, arms or legs. Heat cramps are generally in association with strenuous activity.
  • Stop all activity and sit calmly in a cool place.
  • Drink clear juice or a sports drink.
  • Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours until the cramps are finished.
  • Seek medical attention if your heat cramps occur for over an hour.  
Recognizing Heat Cramps
  • Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms that usually occur in the abdomen, arms or legs. Heat cramps are generally in association with strenuous activity.  
What to Do During Heat Cramps
  • Stop all activity and sit calmly in a cool place.
  • Drink clear juice or a sports drink.
  • Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours until the cramps are finished.
  • Seek medical attention if your heat cramps occur for over an hour.


Sunburn

Sunburns should be avoided because they can damages to the skin. Most sunburns are considered to be mild but a more severe sunburn may require medical attention. 

Recognizing Sunburn

The skin becomes: 

  • Red
  • Painful 
  • Abnormally warm 
What to Do For a Sunburn
  • Avoid repeated sun exposure.
  • Apply cold compresses or immerse yourself in cool water.
  • Apply moisturizing lotion to affected areas.
  • Do not break any blisters.


Heat Rash

Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot and/or humid weather. Heat rash is especially common in young children.  

Recognizing Heat Rash

Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters. It generally occurs on the neck, upper chest, in the groin, under the breasts or in elbow creases.

Treating heat rash does not typically require medical assistance.


Extreme Heat in Spokane


Recommendations During Hot Weather

Drink Plenty of Fluids

  1. During hot weather you will need to increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level.
  2. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of fluids each hour.
  3. Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol, or large amounts of sugar- these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.


Replace Salt and Minerals

  1. Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body. These are necessary for your body and must be replaced.
  2. If plan to exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour.


Wear Appropriate Clothing and Sunscreen 

  1. Wear as little clothing as possible when you are at home.
  2. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  3. Sunburns are harmful because they affect your body’s ability to cool itself.
  4. If you have to go outside, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and wearing SPF 15 or higher.


Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully

  1. If you have to be outdoors, limit your activity to morning and evening hours.
  2. Rest often in shady areas so that your body’s thermostat will have a change to recover


 Pace Yourself

  1. If you have little experience with working or exercising in a hot environment, make sure you start slowly and pick up your pace gradually.
  2. If you are feeling lightheaded, confused, weak or faint, get into a cool area and rest.


Stay Cool Indoors 

  1. Try your hardest to remain indoors, and if possible, in an air-conditioned place.
  2. Taking a cool shower or bath are good ways to cool off.
  3. Avoid using your stove and oven as this will increase the temperature in your home.

Monitor Those at High Risk 

  1. Infants and young children.
  2. People 65 years of age or older.
  3. People who are overweight as they tend to retain more body heat.
  4. People who overexert during work or exercise may become dehydrated.
  5. People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, can be affected by extreme heat.
  6. Cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly.
  7. Interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes of being in the car. Anyone left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or death.
  8. Children left unattended are at the greatest risk for heat-related illnesses.
  9. NEVER leave infants, children or pets in a parked car.

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