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Arkansas Department of Health warns of heat-related illness

With temperatures rising across the state this week, officials with the Arkansas Department of Health are encouraging people to practice heat safety.

ARKANSAS, USA — With temperatures rising across the state this week, officials with the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) are encouraging people to practice heat safety.

Among the most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn, and heat rash. "It is important for everyone to know the warning signs and what actions to take if someone experiences one of these illnesses," a statement by the ADH said.

The body normally cools itself down by sweating, but in certain conditions sweating isn't enough. Children under the age of four, adults aged 65 or older, those who are overweight and people on certain medications have the highest risk of being negatively affected by the heat.

Heat stroke: symptoms include an abnormally high body temperature; hot, red, dry or damp skin; a fast, strong pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and fainting. If you believe you or someone may be going through symptoms of a heat stroke, call 911 right away, move to a cooler spot and try to lower the body temperature by applying cool cloths and drinking water.

The ADH points out that heat-related illnesses are preventable, and listed some tips to prevent a bad reaction to the rising temperatures:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day. If your home does not have air conditioning, consider public places like a library, senior center, or mall.
  • Wear light, loose-fitted clothing.
  • Drink water often. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities if you are outside or without air conditioning.
  • Avoid unnecessary sun exposure. Wear a hat and sunglasses when you are in the sun.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher as directed and reapply as needed

Heat exhaustion: Symptoms of heat exhaustion are different from a heat stroke in that you will have cold, pale, clammy skin and a weak pulse as opposed to a strong pulse with a heat stroke. Move to a cooler place and apply cool cloths to the body and sip water if you think someone may be experiencing heat exhaustion. 

Get medical help right away if vomiting, dizziness, or symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.

Heat cramps: Heat cramps can be identified in those sweating heavily during exercise and having muscle pain or spasms. If you think you may be having a heat cramp, stop any physical activity and move to a cool place, drink water, and wait for the cramps to go away before continuing the exercise. If someone is on a low-sodium diet, has heart problems, or if cramps last longer than one hour, they should seek medical assistance immediately.

Sunburn: Painful, red, and warm skin and blisters on the skin would indicate a sunburn. Stay out of the sun until the burn heals, put cool cloths on the sunburned areas or take a cool bath, put moisturizing lotion on sunburned areas and do not break blisters.

Heat rash: Symptoms include red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin, usually on the neck, chest, groin, or elbow creases.

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