Heat Advisory Prompts IDPH Cautionary Warning

Date posted - July 21, 2014

Des Moines, Iowa – The first extreme heat wave of the summer is forecast for Iowa this week, with highs in the 90s and the heat indexes in the 100s. With the National Weather service issuing a Heat Advisory, The Iowa thermometer - 102 degreesDepartment of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans even young and healthy individuals can have a heat-related illness if they are active during hot weather.

IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says that sometimes the body’s temperature control system just isn’t enough.  She says that in such cases, a person’s temperature rises rapidly.  Especially when humidity is high, as it is today, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly.

Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, Dr. Quinlisk says the people who are at greatest risk include:

  • People age 65 or older
  • Infants and young children
  • Overweight individuals
  • People who are performing manual labor or exercising outdoors
  • People who have a chronic illness, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as those for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.

She says that to protect your health when temperatures and humidity are high, remember to keep cool and use common sense. The following tips are important:

  • Increase fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. The best way to tell you are well-hydrated is if your urine is light yellow. If it gets dark, stop and rehydrate by drinking water immediately.
  • If experiencing a lot of sweating, replace salt and minerals by eating foods like bananas and salty crackers, or drink rehydrating beverages that contain salts such as sports drinks, and special rehydration fluids.
  • Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and wear sunscreen.
  • Wear hats that shade your face such as sun hats, visors, etc.
  • Keep in the shade or air conditioned areas as much as possible.
  • Work slowly if you are not used to working or exercising in heat and humidity. Stop immediately if you get dizzy, nauseated, or feel weak. Go into an air conditioned space and drink cool liquids.
  • Use a buddy system. Watch others for heat-induced illness, since some people may not realize that they are suffering heat-related illnesses and can become confused or lose consciousness.

For more information about preventing heat-related illness, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp.

The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls says that after what has been a relatively cool summer so far, we’re heading into a short stretch of more typical July conditions to begin the week.

A heat advisory is in effect until 9 PM this evening.

The Weather Service says temperatures will climb near 90 degrees in areas east of Interstate 29. In areas west of the Interstate 29 corridor, readings may top out in the low to middle 90s, with areas of central South Dakota reaching 100 degrees. These temperatures are expected to slowly fall during the evening hours. The heat, combined with increasing humidity, will produce heat index values between 100 and 105 degrees.

Precautionary/preparedness actions:

A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected. Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water. Check up on relatives and neighbors, and do not leave children or pets unattended in vehicles.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency, call 9 1 1.

The dangerous heat and humidity will be short-lived, however, as high temperatures mainly in the 80s spread back into the region for Tuesday and Wednesday.

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