Sutter Health Medical Experts Offer Tips for Weekend Heat Wave
As temperatures soar into the triple digits throughout the Bay Area, Sacramento and Central Valley this weekend, medical experts from Sutter Health network offer ways to find relief and stay healthy during the heat wave.
“While it’s important to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness, knowing how to prevent such problems will keep you comfortable and healthy during an extreme heat spell,” said Kelly Nations, M.D., Medical Director of the Emergency Department for Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.
- Wear light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes. Natural fibers like cotton help the body better release heat.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible and avoid reflective surfaces such as concrete or asphalt, which radiate infra-red heat and remain hotter than dirt or grass.
- If you exercise between noon and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense, take extra precautions to stay hydrated. Take a break if you notice the heat affecting you.
- Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you’re ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you’ll have a supply of cold water with you.
- Cover windows when they’re in direct sunlight, and keep curtains, shades, or blinds drawn during the hottest part of the day.
- If your home does not have air conditioning, use fans to circulate the air. Spend as much time as possible in air conditioned buildings such as libraries or shopping malls.
- Take cool or tepid baths and showers to cool down.
- Simplify meal preparation to cut down on cooking time. Use a microwave if possible.
- Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.
- Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. Thirst is a late warning sign that you are low on fluids. Drink 4 ounces every 30 minutes.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can interfere with sweating and fluid loss.
- Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water, as well as sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes.
Recognize Signs of Heat-Related Illness
Heat cramps – painful muscle cramps and spasms, usually in leg and abdominal muscles, accompanied by heavy sweating
- Take action: Stop activity that brought on the cramps, get out of the heat and drink cool water or a sports drink in small amounts — not in big gulps. Eating some salty food may help, too. Massage the cramped muscle, gently stretching it for 20 seconds.
Heat exhaustion– heavy sweating, weakness, cool, pale and clammy skin, weak pulse, cramps, dizziness, fainting, nausea/vomiting; may still have normal temperature
- Take Action: Move to a cool area, loosen or remove clothing. Lie on your back with your feet slightly raised. Drink cool water or an electrolyte sports drink. Call the doctor’s office for advice if you don’t notice an improvement within a half hour. Also stay alert to signs of heat stroke.
Heat stroke (medical emergency) – altered mental state, headache, nausea, dizziness, rapid strong pulse, loss of consciousness, and possibly hot, dry skin; temperature elevated above 106 degrees
- Take action: Call for an ambulance immediately. While waiting for help, wrap an individual in wet sheets and fan the body with your hands or an electric fan. Give the person water if he or she can drink.