Houston Health Department offers guidance for the hot week ahead

The Houston Health Department is providing guidance to residents in an effort to beat the heat wave expected this week.

People are encouraged to take extra precautions to protect themselves from heat-related illnesses and deaths. High-risk groups such as adults 55 and older, children under 4, and people with chronic illnesses or who are overweight or taking certain medications should stay inside air-conditioned buildings between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. h, the hottest part of the day.

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The department recommends people protect themselves and their families from life-threatening heat-related illnesses. He recommends people:

• Increase water consumption. Drink plenty of fluids even before you feel thirsty, but avoid beverages containing caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar, as these can lead to loss of body fluid.

• Work or exercise outdoors in the early morning or evening when temperatures are not as high. Outdoor workers should drink plenty of water or electrolyte replacement drinks and take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned facility. People unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment should start slowly and gradually increase heat exposure over several weeks.

• Wear loose, light-coloured clothing that allows perspiration to evaporate.

• Do not leave babies, children, the elderly or pets unattended in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are ajar. Make sure everyone is out of the car and don’t neglect children who may have fallen asleep.

• Wear a wide-brimmed hat to help prevent sunburn and heat-related illnesses. Apply sunscreen, which protects against the sun’s harmful rays and reduces the risk of sunburn.

• Seek accommodation in air-conditioned facilities during the heat of the day if the house is not air-conditioned: a relative’s house, multi-service centres, shopping centres, cinemas, libraries, etc.

• Take frequent cold baths or showers if your home is not air conditioned.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include weakness, dizziness, excessive sweating, cold or wet skin, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, and a rapid, weak pulse. People with these symptoms should lower their body temperature by moving to a cooler place, drinking water, taking a cool shower or bath, and resting.

A throbbing headache, red, hot, dry skin (no longer sweating), extremely high body temperature (above 103°), nausea or vomiting, confusion, loss of consciousness, and a rapid, strong pulse are signs of heat stroke. If these symptoms occur, call 9-1-1 immediately and try to lower the person’s body temperature until help arrives.