HARRIS COUNTY – For at least 18 days since the beginning of the year, Southeast Texas has experienced record setting temperatures of 100˚+. In the month of July, we are on track to set the hottest month on record, checking records all the way back to 1889. Little to no rain is forecast to alleviate this problem for the next week or more.
Authorities are advising about Heat Stroke, and other measures to deal with the excessive heat.
Heat Safety & Heat Stroke: What You Need to Know During a Heat Wave
When you live in Southeast Texas where the summers are always hot, a heat warning or advisory may not seem like a big deal. But, right now, it’s excessively hot, and it’s a good time to brush up on heat safety.
Heat stroke, also referred to as sun stroke, is when a person’s body overheats as a result of exposure to hot weather. When it’s particularly hot outside, your body temperature can rise faster than your body’s cooling mechanisms (such as sweating) are able to lower it. In addition, heat that’s accompanied by high humidity (above 75%) can reduce the effect sweat has on lowering your body temperature.
“In most cases, heat stroke results from exercising outside in the heat without proper hydration. But, when it’s really hot outside, a person doesn’t have to be exercising to develop heat stroke,” said Dr. Gregory Terry, a primary care physician with Houston Methodist Baytown.
Here’s what you need to know about heat stroke and staying safe in the heat during a heat wave.
The signs and symptoms of heat stroke:
The most common symptoms of heat stroke include:
—A body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, as measured by a rectal thermometer
—Sudden confusion or hallucinations
“People suffering from heat stroke may also experience racing heart rate, rapid breathing, overly warm skin or skin redness, vomiting or diarrhea, muscle cramps and weakness, and throbbing headaches,” said Dr. Terry.
Heat stroke is an emergency requiring immediate medical attention
The high body temperature associated with heat stroke can damage your brain, heart, kidneys, muscles and other organs. “The longer heat stroke is left untreated, the more damage can be done to these vital organs — increasing the risk of longterm complications and even death,” added Dr. Terry.
This means heat stroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone you love is showing signs of heat stroke, call 911 immediately.
While waiting for help to arrive, try to cool the person down by:
—Moving him or her into the shade or air conditioning
—Applying wet towels to the head, neck, armpits and groin or soaking in a cool bath
Heat stroke is preventable
First of all, a person’s risk of experiencing heat stroke is predictable. As soon as your local officials issue a heat alert, especially if it’s a heat advisory, that’s your cue to take extra precautions to stay safe outdoors.
Given the serious nature of heat stroke, it’s important to take steps to prevent heat stroke from happening altogether.
Tips for preventing heat stroke:
—Avoid being in a parked car
—Wear loose-fitting clothing outdoors
—Exercise indoors or early in the morning
—Take frequent “cool down” breaks in the shade if you work outdoors
—Apply (and reapply) sunscreen
—Limit alcohol while in the heat
—Swap outdoor activities for indoor ones