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Gov. Perdue Urges North Carolinians to be Cautious amid Excessive Heat

Awareness Can Help Avoid Risks of Heat Injury

Release Date: June 24, 2010
Contact: Mark Van Sciver, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH – Gov. Bev Perdue today urged North Carolinians and visitors to the state to be aware and guard against suffering heat injury as temperatures are expected to rise into the triple digits.  The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures at or exceeding 100 degrees, and the heat index will top 100 in many communities in our state.

“We are just starting the summer vacation season, and we all need to make sure we take precautions to avoid heat-related health problems,” Gov. Perdue said.  “This is particularly important for the elderly, those with physical or medical conditions that are sensitive to high temperatures and young children.”

Most at risk in this extremely hot weather are infants and children younger than 4 as well as people 65 or older, those who are excessively overweight, physically ill with conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure.  It is also important for those who are working outdoors and might overexert during work or exercise to be especially vigilant.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety have these recommendations to follow during the high temperatures to help avoid heat-related health problems:

Do not leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even for just a few minutes. Car interiors can quickly heat up and cause serious injury or death.
Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water but avoid alcohol and large amounts of sugar.  Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink.

  • Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body.  If you exercise or work outside, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage may replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.  However, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.  Protect yourself from the sun and keep cool by wearing a wide-brimmed hat along with sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going outside.
  • Stay indoors and if at all possible, in an air-conditioned place.  If your home does not have air conditioning, try to find a neighbor, relative or public place that does.  Just a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Avoid, as much as possible, using your stove and oven.  This will help keep cooler temperatures in your home.
  • If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.
  • If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.  When working in the heat, have plenty of water available and monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you.  Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness.

Heat cramps are the first sign of heat injury.  Sweating depletes the body's salt and moisture and results in cramps in the abdomen, arms or legs.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.  Warning signs include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, dizziness and headache.  The skin may be cool and moist, the victim's pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and can cause injury or death if not treated.  Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature rises rapidly, sweating mechanisms fail, and the body is unable to cool down.  Body temperature may rise to 106 degrees or higher rapidly, within 10 to 15 minutes. Warning signs include red, hot, dry skin with no sweating; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; or unconsciousness.

More specific tips for avoiding heat injuries are located on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s web site.



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