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North Carolinians urged to take precautions against heat illness

Release Date: July 23, 2010
Contact: Julie Henry,  919-707-5053

RALEIGH — The N.C. Division of Public Health encourages everyone to be keenly observant of safety precautions during exceptionally high temperatures in North Carolina. As heat advisories continue around the state, those who spend time outside on the playing field, the backyard or the worksite are at increased risk of heat-related illness.

Data from NC Detect, a statewide surveillance network, indicates that from June 11 to July 17, more than 490 people sought medical treatment in emergency departments around the state for heat-related illnesses. The majority of patients have been young and middle-aged adults. Health problems can range from cramps and rashes to heat exhaustion and more deadly, heat stroke.  The Division of Public Health will be posting weekly updates on heat-related illness along with safety tips each Wednesday throughout the summer.

Elderly people (65 years and older), infants and children, overweight people and those with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat stress and need to be monitored regularly during hot weather. Worker groups most at risk are those employed in construction, agriculture, and certain manufacturing sectors.  Everyone is urged to pay attention to the following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce heat-related illness:

  • Know the signs of heat-related illness. Initial symptoms include excessive sweating, tiredness, poor concentration, and headache.
  • Get out of the sun or find a cool place when you start to overheat.
  • Drink plenty of water and juice – no caffeine or high sugar drinks - before and throughout the day, regardless of your activity level. Avoid alcohol and high sugar drinks, which cause you to lose body fluid.
  • When you are outside, know the location of the closest drinking water supplies.
  • Use a buddy system and check on family members and co-workers and senior citizens.
  • After work or extended time outside, or if you feel overheated, take acold bath or shower to cool down.
  • Provide PROMPT medical attention to anyone who shows signs of heat stroke; the first step is to get them out of the heat!

Parents are especially reminded not to leave children in cars for any period of time. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. Any child or pet left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death.

For more information on heat illness, visit the CDC Website.external link