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It’s Hot! Let Cooler Heads Prevail

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
With summer temperatures reaching plus 100 degrees in the Inland Empire, heat stroke and other heat related emergencies are a huge risk. Heat stroke can be fatal in many cases because it happens so quickly – there is not much time to react.

When it comes to heat, your body is like a car. If it overheats, it can cause minor or major problems.

Knowing what to do can help your body keep running.

When a person has a heat stroke, it’s like a car running with almost all the water boiled out of the radiator. It’s very serious, and can lead suddenly and without warning to a complete breakdown.

As you move your body heats up. Your body keeps cool by sending blood close to your

skin, and by sweating. When the temperature is above 90 degrees, when the humidity is high, or when the sun is beating down on your head, people suffer heat cramps and exhaustion. These are unpleasant and can be somewhat serious. But, if they suffer heat stroke, they run the risk of brain damage and even death.  Children and the elderly are at significant risk.

When the body overheats, it can go into crisis. Usually we sweat when we’re hot, but when someone has heat stroke, there is no sweat, and the skin is very dry and hot. Other symptoms include strong, fast pulse, very high temperature (106 degrees –

112 degrees) and confused, strange, or angry behavior. The person may feel chilled, nauseated, or dizzy, and become unconscious.  Call 911 immediately. If the person has stopped breathing, use artificial respiration to get breathing going again.

Move the victim to a cooler area, and if possible soak the person in a cool bath. Use a fan or cold packs. Keep the victim lying down with feet raised.

If you know you’ll be exposed to greater heat or humidity than normal, take several days to get used to it by spending time in similar conditions. Protect yourself and your family by taking a few simple precautions: Hydrate, hydrate…drink plenty of water

during and after exercise, avoid alcohol. Wear lightweight, light color clothing. Wear a hat. Stay ventilated. Stay in a place where there is plenty of airspace, which will allow the body to cool itself naturally. If you’re indoors, always open windows, use a fan or air conditioning.

Many communities provide “cool places” like malls and air conditioned activity centers.

Don’t overexert yourself.

Heat related illnesses are preventable.  Like many sicknesses, it’s easier to take steps against heat related illness than it is to treat it.

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