Prevent Heat-Related Illness

The hottest times of year in North Central Montana are usually in July and August. This year is certainly no exception. As the mercury rises, so do your chances of developing heat stress. Heat stress is the name given to a number of heat-related illnesses that can result when a person is exposed to extreme heat or works in a hot environment.

Heat stress, including illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion, occurs when your body can’t compensate for the heat and properly cool you off. High humidity levels play a factor in developing heat stress, but these illnesses can also occur in dry heat. Age, weight, circulation, prescription drug and alcohol use and a host of other factors also play a role in how well your body is able to cool itself.

There are different types of heat stress, each with its own symptoms. However, common signs and symptoms include:

  • elevated body temperature
  • weakness and fatigue
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • lighheadedness

If you suspect heat stress, immediately rest in the shade and hydrate with water, clear juice or a sports beverage. Consider a cool bath or being sprayed with water. If symptoms are severe or persistent, seek medical attention immediately.

Reduce your risk of heat stress by following these tips:

  • wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing
  • gradually build up to heavy work
  • do strenuous work during the coolest parts of day
  • take more breaks in extreme heat
  • drink plenty of water-avoid caffeinated, alcoholic or sugary beverages

Protect your children from heat stress as well. Make sure they stay hydrated, and save outdoor play activities for morning and evening when temperatures are not so high. It’s hard to keep young children inside all day though, so consider a trip to the pool or a run through the sprinkler. NEVER leave children in a vehicle!

Pets also feel the heat! Make sure your pet has plenty of fresh water and a shady place to rest. Pets should also not be left in unattended vehicles during extreme heat.

For more information on heat stress, its symptoms and how to avoid and treat it, downlo0ad our printable fact sheet or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).