June 29, 2012
Concord, NH – With the high temperatures expected in the State over the next several days, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reminds people to take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion.
“Even though we may know what steps to take to prevent heat-related illnesses,” said DHHS Public Health Director Dr. José Montero, “they can come on quickly and we may not recognize the symptoms. We want everyone to enjoy all that New Hampshire has to offer, but safely.”
DHHS is working with regional and State partners to reach out to vulnerable populations, or people who may not realize they are at risk during extreme heat, such as seniors, children, and people with medical conditions. People should limit their time outside, stay hydrated (water is best), avoid hard physical labor or exercise as much as possible, especially during the hottest part of the day, wear light-weight clothing, and seek medical help if you begin to feel ill.
When the body is unable to cool itself sufficiently by sweating, the body temperature rises and people begin to experience symptoms indicating distress. Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and/or fatigue are symptoms of heat exhaustion, which generally occurs when people exercise or work in hot, humid conditions and body fluids are lost. If the person does not take action, with cool beverages, seeking air conditioning, rest, and removing heavy clothing, heat stroke can result.
The symptoms of heat stroke include red skin that is hot to the touch; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. The body temperature may rise dramatically and the patient’s skin may feel dry. If someone is experiencing heat stroke, they should be moved to a cool place and be cooled down with water if possible, and emergency medical help should be called immediately because heat stroke can be life threatening.
“Children and seniors are more at risk of heat-related illness but anyone can suffer from them under the right circumstances,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “There are, however, simple, common-sense precautions to take, including remaining in an air-conditioned environment whenever possible, which is the number one protective measure and
staying hydrated, by drinking plenty of fluids especially water, but avoiding caffeine and alcohol.”
DHHS will provide additional updates as new information becomes available until the extreme heat ends. For more information on heat-related illnesses, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov.
For questions about animal health and heat, call the Department of Agriculture at 603-271-2404 or visit www.agriculture.nh.gov. For questions related to air quality and the heat, contact the Department of Environmental Services at 603-271-1370 or visit www.airquality.nh.gov. For concerns about your health or someone else’s during excessive heat, contact your healthcare provider or call 911 for emergency assistance.