With temperatures heating up, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 600 people in the U.S. will be killed by extreme heat this summer. Those over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of developing a heat-related illness. GlobalHealth, an Oklahoma-based health insurance provider, is providing tips for Oklahoma seniors to stay cool this summer to help prevent heat-related illnesses.
“As we age, our bodies lose the ability to respond to the summer heat,” said Rebecca Anderson, director of utilization management at GlobalHealth. “This puts seniors at risk for heat-related illnesses. It is important to know the warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, and the recommended first-aid steps.”
GlobalHealth is providing information to help Oklahomans prevent and treat heat-related illnesses:
What is a heat-related illness? Heat-related illnesses occur when the body cannot properly cool itself. These can include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburns, heat edema or heat rash.
Symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Heavy sweating, muscle pains, paleness, tiredness and swelling in the ankles or feet are some of the common signs of heat exhaustion. Seniors may also experience dizziness, nausea, spasms or cramps in the stomach, arms or legs. Those with high blood pressure or heart, lung and kidney diseases may also be at risk. Red, hot and dry skin with no sweating, rapid pulse and body temperatures over 103 F can be signs of heat stroke.
Prevention. It is important to stay in the air-conditioning or find shade if you are outside. Avoid high-energy activities, drink plenty of fluids and wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Taking cold showers or baths can also help to keep you cool. If you are on a special diet or your primary care physician has limited your fluids, talk to them about your options.
How to help. If you think someone is suffering from a heat-related illness, get the person out of the heat and into a cool place. Offer fluids and apply a cold, wet cloth to their wrists or neck. If you have symptoms of heat stroke, call 911 or go to the hospital immediately. Try to cool down until medical help arrives.
Heat stroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash, vehicle–related death for children according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. In the United States, a child dies from heat stroke in a vehicle every 10 days. Parents and caregivers of young children should especially keep in mind that vehicles heat up quickly and can be extremely dangerous for children.
A report from the National Safety Council indicates more than half of deaths of kids in hot cars were at home, and 25 percent of deaths occurred at the caregiver’s workplace. The report also states there were 21 deaths of children in hot cars in Oklahoma from 1998-2017.
If a child is seen alone in a locked, parked car, it is permitted by law to forcibly enter the vehicle to rescue the child. Call 911 immediately for emergency assistance. Once the child is out of the vehicle, stay with the child in a safe place near the vehicle until emergency responders arrive.
To receive more information on summer car safety, contact the OSDH Injury Prevention Service at (405) 271-3430 or visit http://ips.health.ok.gov and click on Fact Sheets and then click Kids in Hot Cars.
Follow me on Twitter @SkiatookJournal.
E-mail lindsey.chastain @skiatookjournal.com