Heat stress: are you protected?

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ashley Martin
  • 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron
It's that time of year again when excessively high temperatures are a major cause for concern. We all know that staying hydrated is important, but just how important is it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 8,000 deaths throughout a 20-year span due to heat exposure.

Heat exposure is when a person's body temperature is higher than normal due to physical exertion in a hot environment. Heat related injuries and illnesses occur if you are exposed to extreme heat and your body is unable to cool down.

Factors such as age, obesity, prescription medications and alcohol make it even more difficult for your body to function. As a result, you may become sick and experience a form of heat stress, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat stroke, which is a medical emergency.

Symptoms of heat stress include, but are not limited to:
· Confusion
· Dizziness
· Chills
· Hot and dry skin
· Weakness
· Profuse sweating
· Elevated body temperature
· Vomiting

If you experience any of these symptoms, move to a shaded area and apply cool water to your body and drink plenty of water. If the symptoms persist, seek medical attention.

Heat related illnesses and injuries are often preventable. If you are going outside, wear light colored, loose fitting clothing, apply sunscreen, drink plenty of fluid and. take frequent breaks while performing strenuous activities to rest in a cool environment.

Be a wingman and monitor the physical condition of your friends, family, and co-workers. Hot weather can be dangerous if not taken seriously and if the proper precautionary measures are not taken. You play a vital role in protecting your health.

To find out more about heat stress, visit www.cdc.gov. If you have any questions, please contact the Public Health office at (316) 759-5167.