DOH-Marion encourages heat safety as temperatures rise
June 17, 2022
Ocala, Fla.—As the temperature soars, the Florida Department of Health in Marion County is urging our community to take precautions against possible heat injuries.
The National Weather Service is expected to issue a heat advisory on Saturday for much of northern Florida, including Marion County. The NWS does so when the heat index climbs to 108 degrees or more. The NWS defines the heat index as the measurement of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. For example, the index reaches 108 degrees with a relative humidity reading of 50% coupled with an air temperature of 96 degrees.
Heat advisories are generally issued within 12 hours of the heat index reaching 105 degrees.
Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year, according to the NWS. Certain segments of the population are particularly vulnerable as the temperature climbs. They include:
Young children and infants whose bodies are less able to adapt to heat than adults.
Older adults, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, who take certain medications, who are living alone or who have with limited mobility can experience multiple adverse effects from extreme heat.
People with chronic medical conditions also are more likely to face serious health problems during extreme heat than healthy people.
Pregnant women are at higher risk as well. Extreme heat events have been linked to adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant mortality, as well as congenital cataracts.
The Department reminds residents that it is never safe to leave a child, disabled person, or pet locked in a car. Those with toddlers at home should keep cars locked, even in your own driveway.
Other tips to keep in mind, according to the NWS:
If outdoors, reduce, eliminate, or reschedule strenuous activities, including exercise, until the coolest time of the day. Those most vulnerable, as mentioned above, should stay in the coolest available place.
Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
Minimize your direct exposure to the sun, as sunburn actually reduces your body's ability to dissipate heat.
When eating and drinking, eat lighter, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads. If you pack food, put it in a cooler or carry an ice pack. Don't leave food in the sun. Meats and dairy products especially can spoil quickly in hot weather.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, or non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids. You should do so even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol or drinks with caffeine, as they promote dehydration.
Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
Remain in cool settings by using an air conditioner or spending time in air-conditioned locations. Consider using portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air.
Do not direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°F. The dry, blowing air will dehydrate you faster, endangering your health. You can also keep cool by taking a cool bath or shower.
Remember to check on others, especially those who are older, sick, or frail who struggle in responding to the heat.
Be mindful of heat-related illnesses, which break down into three categories:
- Heat cramps: Heat cramps are often the first sign of heat-related illness, and if not addressed, may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke. Symptoms of heat cramps include painful muscle cramps and spasms, usually in legs and abdomen. Heavy sweating is another symptom. To treat heat cramps, apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water. Seek immediate medical attention if cramps last longer than one hour.
- Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness or tiredness, cool, pale, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache, fainting. To treat heat exhaustion, move the person to a cooler environment, preferably a well air conditioned room. Loosen clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, or have the person sit in a cool bath. Offer sips of water. Seek immediate medical attention if the person vomits, or if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour
- Heat Stroke: Symptoms of heat stroke include a throbbing headache, confusio nausea, dizziness, a body temperature above 103 degrees, hot, red, dry or damp skin, rapid and strong pulse, fainting, loss of consciousness. To treat heat stroke, call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency, and delaying treatment can be fatal. Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment and reduce body temperature with cool cloths or bath. Use fan but only if the heat index is below the high 90s. Do NOT give fluids.
To learn more about heat-related injuries and how to protect yourself in hot conditions, visit www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat.
About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @HealthyFla. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.