The Pueblo West View

Tips for the extreme heat wave

Summer has arrived with the forecast for hot, dry, windy, and red flag warnings for wildfires.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports extreme heat waves are the most common cause of weather-related deaths in the United States.

Those at higher risk for experiencing heat stress include:

• Infants and children under four years of age

• Individuals 65 years old and older

• People who are overweight or have heart disease or high blood pressure

Certain medications can also increase your risk.

Heat-related illness can be as mild as heat rash and as serious as heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate fluid replacement. Warning signs of heat exhaustion are:

• Heavy sweating

• Paleness

• Muscle cramps

• Fatigue, weakness, dizziness, fainting

• Headache

• Nausea or vomiting

Be smart this summer and reduce your risk of a heat-related illness by:

• Stay cool - stay indoors if possible and in an air conditioned place; avoid direct sunlight; wear lightweight and light-colored clothing; take cool showers or baths.

If you go outside remember to put on your sunscreen, wear a long-sleeved shirt, a floppy hat and sunglasses

• Stay hydrated - drink more water than usual; don’t wait until you ‘re thirsty to drink more fluids; avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar; if you are on a low-salt diet or a limited fluid intake - check with your doctor before increasing fluids, drinking sports beverages, or taking salt pills

• Stay informed - learn the symptoms of heat illness; check local news for heat alerts and updates including wildfire news

• Never leave anyone or any pets in a closed, parked vehicle

If the temperature is in the high 90’s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness.

The strongest protective factor against heat-related illness is air conditioning.

Be a thoughtful friend and check on family, friends, and neighbors who are high risk for heat-related illness.

Be alert to the dangers of wildfires and the resulting smoke in the area.

If visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.

Those most affected by high levels of smoke include: the very young and the elderly, and those with heart disease or respiratory illness.

Limit outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present.

Typical symptoms of wildfire smoke inhalation may include: difficulty breathing normally; cough; chest discomfort; wheezing and shortness of breath; seasonal allergies worsen; and eye irritation.

Do not rely on dust masks for protection; however, a properly fitting “N95” mask will offer some protection.

Dr. Chris Nevin-Woods, Pueblo City-County Health Dept. Director, cautions individuals who are at high risk for breathing difficulties due to smoke, “In general, if you can see or smell smoke, it is recommended you limit time outdoors and avoid outdoor physical activities.”

Be health-smart this summer and enjoy Colorado.

For additional information, web sites: www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_advisory;

www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat">Plain">www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat; www.cdc.gov/showClimateChangeExtremeHeat.action.

Pueblo West resident Jane Anne Hollandsworth is a retired nurse whose 30-year career was spent primarily in nursing education and public health.

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