The first extreme heat wave of the summer is forecast for Iowa this week, with highs in the 90s and the heat indexes in the 100s. With events like RAGBRAI and the State Softball Tournament occurring this week, The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans even young and healthy individuals can have a heat-related illness if they are active during hot weather.
“After a week of mild temperatures and relatively low humidity, this wave of heat will be a big adjustment for many. People suffer heat-related illness when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough,” said IPDH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly. Especially when the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly.”
Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, the people are at greatest risk include:
• People age 65 or older
• Infants and young children
• Overweight individuals
• People who are performing manual labor or exercising outdoors
• People who have a chronic illness, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as those for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.
To protect your health when temperatures and humidity are high, remember to keep cool and use common sense. The following tips are important:
• Increase fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. The best way to tell you are well-hydrated is if your urine is light yellow. If it gets dark, stop and rehydrate by drinking water immediately.
• If experiencing a lot of sweating, replace salt and minerals by eating foods like bananas and salty crackers, or drink rehydrating beverages that contain salts such as sports drinks, and special rehydration fluids.
• Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and wear sunscreen.
• Wear hats that shade your face such as sun hats, visors, etc.
• Keep in the shade or air conditioned areas as much as possible.
• Work slowly if you are not used to working or exercising in heat and humidity. Stop immediately if you get dizzy, nauseated, or feel weak. Go into an air conditioned space and drink cool liquids.
• Use a buddy system. Watch others for heat-induced illness, since some people may not realize that they are suffering heat-related illnesses and can become confused or lose consciousness.
For more information about preventing heat-related illness, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp.