By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
On average, 675 people a year die from extreme heat events. The ones most vulnerable are the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless or poor and people with chronic medical conditions.
With the recent increasing temperatures, the Seward County Health Department is urging people to take steps in preventing such illnesses and deaths from happening to them.
“We at the Seward County Health Department encourage all residents to learn the signs and first aid response for heat-related illness,” Charly Madden, a registered nurse at the health department, said. “Extremely high or unusually hot temperatures can and do affect your health.”
The most common two heat-related illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which is much more severe and someone with heat stroke must receive medical attention immediately.
With heat exhaustion, the symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale, and clammy skin, weak pulse and fainting and vomiting. If someone has these symptoms, the health department urges people to:
•Move to a cooler location.
•Lie down and loosen clothing.
•Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible.
•If vomiting continues, seek medical attention immediately.
Symptoms of heat stroke are much more severe and are actually considered a medical emergency. They include high body temperature (above 103°), hot, red, dry or moist skin, rapid and strong pulse and possible unconsciousness. People who notice others exhibiting these symptoms must:
• Call 911 immediately.
• Move the person to a cooler environment.
• Reduce the person's body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
• Do NOT give fluids.
While these are both severe to get, the health department also has tips for how citizens can stay cool in the heat, including limiting time outdoors and staying hydrated. They also include to never leave children and/or pets unattended in a car. Make it a habit to always look in the front and back seat before locking your car, and most importantly, call 911 if you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, even if the window is cracked or partial rolled down.
“People can also stay informed by checking local news for extreme heat warnings and safety tips,” Madden said. “Keep friends, family and neighbors aware of weather and heat safety information and check on at-risk friends, family and neighbors often.”