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Summer Safety Mini-Series: Heat Related Stress and Illness

Friday, August 5th, 2022 -- 3:01 PM


The Clark County Health Department is offering some summer safety tips.

We are in the middle of the dog days of summer, so what a perfect opportunity to review a few simple yet very important summer safety tips to ensure we can continue enjoying the heat, all while maintaining our health & safety.

This is the second topic in our three-part miniseries. The remaining topics include heat stress-related illness and water safety. So, today's topic, of course, is going to be heat stress-related illness.

Kelsey Wussow, Lead Public Health Nurse at the Clark County Health Department, described what you can do to keep yourself safe from heat stress-related illness.

"Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are two terms that are frequently used interchangeably; however, there are key differences. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness."

"It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes."

"Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death if the person does not receive emergency treatment. In addition to a very high body temperature, other symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech,
  • Loss of consciousness (coma),
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating,
  • And seizures."

"To respond to heat stroke and prevent disability & death, you should immediately call 911, as the person will require emergency medical care. Stay with the person and if able, move them to a shaded, cool area, and remove outer clothing."

"Cool the person quickly by wetting the skin with cold cloths or ice on the head, neck, armpits, and groin. Circulate the air around the person to speed cooling. Now, heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating, and is most likely to affect:

  • The elderly,
  • People with high blood pressure,
  • And those working in a hot environment."

"Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Headache,
  • Nausea,
  • Dizziness,
  • Weakness,
  • Irritability,
  • Thirst,
  • Heavy sweating,
  • Elevated body temperature,
  • and decreased urine output."

"Responding to heat exhaustion is similar to what was described for heat stroke, to include calling 911, staying with the person, removing them from a hot area, removing excessive clothing, and cooling the person with cold compresses."

"Heat exhaustion is not as serious as heat stroke and most times, the person is awake & alert. If so, encourage the person to take frequent sips of cool water, and wash their head, face, and neck with cold water."

"The best way to prevent heat stroke and heat exhaustion is to limit your time in the sun or in a hot area with little air movement. If your job or activity requires you to be in a hot area for a prolonged period of time, be sure to take frequent rest & water breaks."

"Hydrate by drinking 1 - 8 oz. cup of water every 15-20 minutes. If you are sweating for several hours, drink sports drinks containing balanced electrolytes."

If you’d like to learn more you can contact the Clark County Health Department or consult with your personal physician. Make sure you tune in next Friday for the final part of our miniseries regarding water safety.

Listen to my interview with Kelsey here.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.