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Prevent heat-related illnesses this summer by taking these simple precautions

Anyone spending time in the heat this summer should remember to stay hydrated, ventilated, protect their skin, limit their activity and keep an eye on others, advises MedStar Health.

Extreme heat related illnesses kills more than 600 people a year but are preventable, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. MedStar, which operates ambulances in Tarrant County, treated 25 patients with heat-related health problems in May, 12 of whom were taken to the hospital, according to a press release.

Following these tips could save lives and prevent heat-related illness:

  • Stay hydrated, especially when engaged in strenuous activity. Sports drinks and water are good choices for hydration if working or exercising in hot conditions.
  • Ventilate your body. Try to find a place where air is circulating to help keep your body temperature down. If you don’t have access to air conditioning when indoors, keep windows open and use a fan.
  • Wear light colored, loose-fitting clothes that could prevent absorbing sunlight and trapping heat. Wearing a hat to keep the sun out of your face is a good idea, but if you start becoming too warm uncover your head to help release body heat.
  • Heatstroke can occur in less than an hour when you’re exerting yourself during a hot day. Anyone who is feeling lightheaded or getting too hot should find a cool place to rest, away from the sun. It is especially important to stay hydrated when being active.
  • Keep an eye on those around you and check in with your loved ones regularly. Call 911 if someone around you is showing symptoms of heatstroke or heat exhaustion.

MedStar says it’s important to look for warning signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion in those around you. If anyone shows symptoms of heatstroke, immediately call 911.

Heatstroke happens with long, intense exposure to heat where the body loses the ability to cool itself. Common symptoms include confusion, vomiting, alteration or decrease in sweating, hot and flushed skin, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, decreased urination and high body temperatures around 104 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat exhaustion happens when the body loses large amounts of water and salt through excessive sweating. Signs of heat exhaustion can be muscle cramps, paleness, sweating, nausea and vomiting. Children and the elderly have a higher risk of heat exhaustion.

It’s also important to remember that children and pets should not be left in the car. Many calls for a child left in a hot car end in tragedy, the release said. MedStar says to immediately call 911 and be prepared to follow the operators instructions and take action if you see a child alone in a car.

Keep cars secure to prevent curious children from getting in and accidentally becoming trapped.

The CDC warns that leaving a window down is not enough to keep a child safe in the car. Even with a window open, temperatures in a car can rise by 20 degrees in 10 minutes, according to the CDC. The agency recommends keeping a stuffed animal in the front seat with the driver as a constant reminder that there is a child in the vehicle and make sure children who may have fallen asleep in the car are not left there.

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James Hartley is the Arlington city government reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He is passionate about local politics, true stories, movies and baseball. He has worked for the Tyler Morning Telegraph, D Magazine and the Dallas Observer. You can connect with James on Twitter @ByJamesHartley or Instagram @JamesTakesPhotos. Want reporters like James to help you stay informed about your community? You can help the Star-Telegram continue to offer great local, political, sports and culture news by purchasing a digital or print subscription today.
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