Health District Experts, Hoopfest Organizers Offer Tips for Beating the Heat in Advance of This Weekend’s Tournament
For more information, contact Kim Papich, SRHD Public Information Officer (509) 324-1539
SPOKANE, Wash. – June 26, 2013 – With hot weather on its way, and large crowds of athletes and spectators expected in downtown Spokane this weekend for Hoopfest, experts at the health district are warning the community that hot weather can be more than just uncomfortable—it can pose a threat to people’s health or even their lives.
People who exercise in extreme heat are more likely to become dehydrated and get heat-related illness, including heat stroke which occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature. If not treated immediately, heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability. Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop within hours of exposure to high temperatures and not drinking enough fluids.
For both athletes and spectators, it is important to stop all activity and get to a cool environment if feeling faint or weak. Also, know the signs of heat-related illness and the simple things people can do—like drinking plenty of water—to reduce their risk.
“Heat-related illness is preventable, but we’re going to need the support of players and fans to educate themselves on how to recognize and prevent it,” says Hoopfest Executive Director Rick Steltenpohl. “The key here is to drink before play, during play and after. If a player is thirsty before they start, they are already on the way to dehydration.”
Heat stroke is an emergency and requires immediate medical help—it can be fatal. Signs of heat stroke include; a body temperature of over 104 degrees; a change in behavior such as confusion, acting delirious; light headedness; dry flushed skin; not sweating in spite of the heat; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; and unconsciousness. These symptoms may progress to slipping into a coma.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, weakness, nausea and fainting. A person suffering from heat exhaustion may feel uncoordinated, perhaps thirsty and sweat a lot. Their skin may feel cold, although their body temperature may be normal. Being exposed to high temperatures for too long can also cause muscle cramps and swelling in the feet or ankles. What to do: usually, resting in a cool place (air conditioning is the best way to prevent heat-related illness), staying out of direct sunlight, drinking plenty of water or fluids (but not alcohol or caffeine), and washing off with cool water if possible is sufficient to remedy this condition. If precautions are not taken or the person is not treated, heat exhaustion may turn into life-threatening heat stroke.
Those at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to four years of age, people 65 years of age and older, people who are overweight, and people who are ill or on certain medications.
To avoid heat-related illness on hot days:
- Drink plenty of water or fruit and vegetable juices. Avoid caffeine or alcohol.
- Limit your time outdoors, especially in the afternoon when the day is hottest.
- Be careful about exercising or doing a lot of activities when it is hot. Stay out of the sun, take frequent breaks, drink water or juice often, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- Dress for the weather. Loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothes are cooler than dark colors or some synthetics.
- If you live in a home without fans or air conditioning, open windows to allow air flow, and keep shades, blinds or curtains drawn in the hottest part of the day or when the windows are in direct sunlight. Try to spend at least part of the day in an air conditioned place like a shopping mall, a store, the library, a friend’s house, or the movies. Cool showers or a cool bath can help, too. Do not use a fan when the air temperature is above 95 degrees, it will blow hot air, which can add to heat stress.
- Never leave a child or a disabled or elderly person or a pet in an unattended car, even with the windows down. A closed vehicle can heat up to dangerous levels in as little as ten minutes. Lock parked cars to prevent children from playing in them.
For more information about avoiding heat-related illness, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Web page. More information can also be found at www.srhd.org. SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.