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Posted: May 4, 2018 2:31 p.m.
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Learn how to protect yourself, Family, friends from the heat

 With summer approaching, so is the expectation for using sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn caused by Georgia’s “hot” weather. However, sunburn is not the only concern; you will need to protect yourself and your families from heat-related illness. 

The at risk group of our population includes infants, small children, older adults; pets; individuals with heart or circulatory problems; or who participate in outdoor activities for extended periods of time. 

The three critical heat-related illnesses are heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Heat cramps are muscle spasms that usually affect the legs or abdominal muscles, often after physical activity. Excessive sweating reduces salt levels in the body, which can result in heat cramps. Workers or athletes with pain or spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs should not return to work for a few hours. Instead, they should sit or lie down in the shade, drink cool water or a sports drink, stretch affected muscles and seek medical attention if you have heart problems or if the cramps don't get better in an hour.

Heat exhaustion can be a sign of heatstroke.  Symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing, and a fast, weak pulse. These symptoms occur when the body loses an excessive amount of salt and water, and as a result, people who work outdoors and athletes are particularly susceptible. Additionally, these warning signs are similar to those of the flu and can include severe thirst, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting and, sometimes, diarrhea. Other symptoms include profuse sweating, clammy or pale skin, dizziness, rapid pulse and normal or slightly elevated body temperature. Uncontrolled heat exhaustion can evolve into heatstroke, so make sure to treat the victim quickly. First, move the individual to a shaded or air-conditioned area. Second, give them water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages. Third, apply wet towels or having them take a refreshing shower.

Heatstroke can occur when the ability to sweat fails, and body temperature rises quickly. The brain and vital organs are essentially being “cooked" as body temperature rises to a dangerous level in a matter of minutes. Heatstroke is often fatal, and those who do survive may have permanent damage to their organs. Someone experiencing heatstroke will have extremely hot skin, and an altered mental state, ranging from slight confusion to coma. As such, seizures also can result. Therefore, ridding the body of excess heat is crucial for survival. First, move the person into a half-sitting position in the shade. Second, call for emergency medical help immediately. Additionally, if humidity is below 75 percent; then spray the patient with water and fan them vigorously, but if humidity is above 75 percent; then apply ice to neck, armpits or groin. Most importantly, do not give aspirin or acetaminophen and do not give the patient anything to drink. 

Pass the information onto family, friend’s co-workers or teammates.  You can find additional information online at www.nsc.org. 



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