EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 17, 2013

DHHS: Extreme heat can be serious


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CONCORD — With the forecast for the week predicted to be 90 degrees and above for many regions of the state, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is reminding people to take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

In an effort to help people seek relief from the heat, cooling centers have been opened around the state. To find out if there is a cooling center near you, call 211. People are reminded they can also seek relief in air-conditioned places such as a mall, grocery store, movie theater or library.

“Heat-related illnesses can come on quickly,” said NH Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero, “and we may not even recognize the symptoms. There are some simple common-sense precautions to take to keep yourself and your family safe during extended periods of heat. This is especially important for children and seniors who are more at risk for heat-related illnesses. Whenever possible stay inside air-conditioning, drink plenty of fluids — water is best, avoid caffeine and alcohol and large amounts of sugar, wear light clothing and limit outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day.”

When the body is unable to cool itself sufficiently by sweating, the body temperature rises and people begin to experience symptoms indicating distress. Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and/or fatigue are symptoms of heat exhaustion, which generally occurs when people exercise or work in hot, humid conditions and body fluids are lost. If the person does not take action, with cool beverages, seeking air conditioning, rest, and removing heavy clothing, heat stroke can result.

The symptoms of heat stroke include red skin that is hot to the touch; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing.

The temperature may rise dramatically and the patient’s skin may feel dry. If someone is experiencing heat stroke, they should be moved to a cool place and be cooled down with water if possible, and emergency medical help should be called immediately because heat stroke can be life threatening.

DHHS is working with regional and state partners to reach out to vulnerable populations, or people who may not realize they are at risk during extreme heat.

For more information on heat-related illnesses, visit the DHHS website at dhhs.nh.gov or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov.

For questions about animal health and heat, call the Department of Agriculture at 271-2404 or visit agriculture.nh.gov. For questions related to air quality and the heat, contact the Department of Environmental Services at 271-1370 or visit airquality.nh.gov.

For concerns about your health or someone else’s during excessive heat, contact your healthcare provider or call 911 for emergency assistance.