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Tips to avoid heat stroke while cleaning up from Hurricane Ida

Courtesy MGN Online
Posted at 10:31 AM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 11:31:21-04

Recovery and cleanup efforts have begun for many following Hurricane Ida's landfall in Southeast Louisiana.

Unfortunately for those affected, that means long hours of hauling debris and making repairs in the sun and without electricity.

With a tremendous amount of moisture still in the atmosphere, the heat index can begin to push normal summer temperatures into the triple digits.

In these types of intense conditions, and with a lack of air conditioned locations, it is important to take precautions against heat stroke - for human beings and for animals.

Here is some information on how to avoid heat stroke for people, from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won't allow your body to cool properly.
  • Protect against sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself, so protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat-related problems if you take medications that can affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.
  • Never leave anyone in a parked car. This is a common cause of heat-related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees F (more than 6.7 C) in 10 minutes. It’s not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are cracked or the car is in shade.
  • Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. If you can’t avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, drink fluids and rest frequently in a cool spot. Try to schedule more laborious tasks for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.
  • Get acclimated. Limit time spent working in heat until you're conditioned to it. People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat-related illness. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust to hot weather.
  • Be cautious if you’re at increased risk. If you take medications or have a condition that increases your risk of heat-related problems, avoid the heat and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating. If you participate in a strenuous sporting event or activity in hot weather, make sure there are medical services available in case of a heat emergency.

If heatstroke does occur, the condition requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles, the Mayo Clinic says.

The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.

Seek medical treatment immediately if you experience these symptoms:

  • High body temperature.
  • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
  • Headache. Your head may throb.

Animals can suffer heat stroke, too.

To prevent your pet from overheating, take these simple precautions provided by ASPCA experts:

  • Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun.
  • Know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.
  • Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cooler rooms or enclosures as much as possible.
  • Never leave animals alone in a parked vehicle. Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke.
  • Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.

Here's an infographic from the ASPCA: