Beating the heat!

Published 4:34 pm Saturday, June 20, 2015


Summer Intern

AHOSKIE – Today, (Saturday, June 20) marks the first official day of the summer solstice, that time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere when the Sun reaches its northernmost point of the equator.

However, it seems as though summer made its debut last week.

With a few days hitting triple digits and others in the low to mid 90’s on the thermometer, it is important to stay safe and cool in every way possible. Health directors with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) are urging citizens to take extra precautions against heat-related illnesses.

“Increased temperatures affect everyone, but children, the elderly, those who work outside and those with chronic health conditions are most vulnerable to illness during the summer months,” said Dr. Megan Davies, the Acting State Health Director and State Epidemiologist.

“Simple actions can prevent severe illnesses, trips to the emergency room and even death,” she insisted.

Heatstroke is condition where your body has overheated, usually caused by prolonged exposure or extended physical exercise in high temperatures. It can occur if your body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. It can damage your brain, kidneys, heart and several other organs. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, lack of sweating, muscle weakness, vomiting or nausea, and a host of others symptoms. Fainting is sometimes the first sign of someone having a heatstroke.

Heatstroke is usually the culmination of several other heat related illnesses, such as heat induced fainting, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and dehydration, which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system.

There are many ways to prevent heat related illness aside from simply staying out of the heat, to include increasing your fluid (non-alcoholic and sugar filled drinks) intake via drinks like water and Gatorade or Powerade. Be sure to avoid very cold drinks, as they can increase stomach cramps.

Limiting outdoor activity to early morning and late afternoon can help as it is cooler at those times of the day. Wearing light clothes and protective headwear and eyewear is also recommended. Sunscreen is also recommended as it protects skin from sunburn.

For those who are 60 and up, or have disabilities, DHHS has a program that can alleviate your troubles: Operation Fan/Heat Relief. It offers those in need the opportunity to receive one fan per year for free. For more information, contact your local Department of Social Services.

If you see someone suffering from heatstroke, or another serious heat related illness, call 911 immediately and give first aid until paramedics arrive. Get them to an air conditioned location or in a shady area and remove all unnecessary clothes.

For more information, contact your local health provider.

And as for the official weather forecast for the first few days of summer, don’t look for any major changes. The National Weather Service Office in Wakefield, VA is calling for high temps in the mid 90’s today through Friday of next week.