Press Release

June 29 , 2012


Extreme Heat Health Warning

SPRINGFIELD – With high temperatures expected to continue this weekend, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck is urging Illinoisans to take preventive actions during this extremely hot weather to avoid heat-related illness, such as heat-stroke.

“It’s important for people to recognize the signs of heat-related illness and take action to prevent becoming sick. High heat and humidity can lead to serious health problems,” Dr. Hasbrouck said. “To help your body cope with high temperatures, take steps to stay cool, increase your fluid intake, decrease your activities and wear appropriate clothing.”

Normally, the body cools itself by sweating. However, if temperatures and humidity are extremely high, sweating is not effective in maintaining the body’s normal temperature. If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, a person may suffer a heat-related illness, which can become serious or even deadly if unattended.

Heatstroke is caused by prolonged exposure to the heat. Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Headache
  • Red, dry face
  • Skin hot to touch
  • Body temperature of 105° F or more
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures, irregular heartbeat

Heat stroke treatment – call 911; quickly cool the person in a cool bath or wrap wet sheets around them; if the victim refuses water, is vomiting or shows a decreased level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.

Heat exhaustion can occur either indoors or outdoors, with or without exercise. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Dizziness
  • Cool, clammy skin
  • Nausea
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Muscle tremors, cramping

Heat exhaustion treatment – move the person to a cooler place; remove or loosen tight clothing; and apply cool, wet cloths; give cool water to slowly drink.

Dr. Hasbrouck encourages Illinoisans to follow these prevention tips to beat the heat and related illness:

  • Drink more of fluids, but avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Drink a minimum of six to eight 8 ounce glasses of cool fluids daily. During heavy exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour. Parents should be sure young children are drinking enough.
  • Take cool showers, baths or sponge baths, which can reduce body temperatures.
  • Protect your body. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. When spending time outdoors, avoid direct sunlight, wear a hat and use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
  • Never leave anyone, including pets, alone in a closed, parked vehicle. The air temperature inside a car rises rapidly during hot weather and can lead to brain damage or death.
  • Stay indoors and, if possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a public place such as a cooling center, a senior citizen center, a church, a mall, the local YMCA or a center designated by your community that does have air conditioning. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Fans alone will not effectively cool an overheated person when air temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you must go outside:

  • Slow down and avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the early morning or late evening hours when it is cooler.
  • Take regular breaks when engaged in physical activity on warm days. Try to rest often in shady or cool areas. If you recognize that you, or someone else, are showing signs of a heat-related illness, stop activity and find a cool place.

Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, but some people are at greater risk. Check regularly on:

  • Infants and young children
  • People aged 65 or older
  • People who have mental illness
  • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

Related links:

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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