After an exceptionally stormy summer so far, Indiana will receive a blast of hot summer air this weekend. The National Weather Service predicts temperatures will reach at least 90 degrees across most of the state. Combined with high humidity, the heat index in some areas will reach more than 100 degrees. Prolonged exposure to these conditions can lead to heat illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. You should take all precautionary measures prior to feeling the effects of the heat in order to avoid developing either condition.
The three keys to staying safe in the heat are water, rest and shade. Drink plenty of water, even if you aren’t thirsty. Avoid alcoholic or carbonated beverages. Also frequently take breaks during outdoor activities. Try to avoid doing anything outdoors during the hottest parts of the day such as mid afternoon. Stay indoors to limit exposure to the sun on especially scorching days. If you are outside for an extended amount of time, locate shady areas where you can take a break. Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
The first signs of heat illness include muscle cramps and a flushed appearance. People who are at greater risk than others include the elderly, very young children, and individuals with respiratory conditions. If starting symptoms are not addressed, it can lead to more serious symptoms such as a throbbing headache, dizziness, feeling light-headed, no perspiration despite the heat, nausea and vomiting, red, hot and dry skin, rapid heartbeat, rapid and shallow breathing, seizures, behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering and unconsciousness.
Someone suffering from heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place to rest and drink water or a non-carbonated sports drink. Cool, wet washcloths or ice packs will help with recovery. If there is no improvement, if body temperature won’t go down or the person won’t take fluids you should take them to the emergency room immediately or call 911.