VA Department of Health's Tips to Stay Safe in Extreme Heat - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VA Department of Health's Tips to Stay Safe in Extreme Heat

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The Virginia Department of Health
Thomas Jefferson Health District
Press Release

(Charlottesville,Va.)-- With the daytime heat index approaching 100 degrees over the next couple of days, it becomes even more important that people follow recommendations to protect themselves from the extreme heat. 

According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, in 2012 there were 21 heat-related deaths in Virginia. 

"Residents should plan activities during the coolest parts of the day", says Dr. Lilian Peake, Health Director for the Thomas Jefferson Health District.  "In the summer, sunlight exposure is greatest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m."

Here are steps you can take to protect yourself against heat-related illnesses:

  • Keep cool in an air-conditioned area. Take a cool shower or a bath.  Consider a trip to the mall or a local library or visit a friend with air conditioning.  Spending at least two hours per day in air conditioning significantly reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses. When temperatures reach the upper 90s or above, a fan may not prevent heat-related illness. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids (2-4 glasses of cool fluids each hour).  To replace salt and minerals lost from sweating, drink fruit juice or a sports beverage during exercise or when you have to work outside.  However, talk to your doctor first if you're on a fluid-restricted diet or medications, or on a low-salt diet.
  • Avoid sunburn and wear light clothing.  Sunburn limits your body's ability to keep itself cool and causes loss of body fluids.  Use sunscreen.  Lighter-weight clothing that is loose fitting and light colored is more comfortable during extreme temperatures.  Use a hat to keep your head cool. 
  • Give your body a break as the heat wave can be stressful on your body.  Limit physical activity until your body adjusts to the heat.
  • Never leave children or pets in cars. Temperatures inside a car can reach more than 150 degrees quickly, resulting in heat stroke and death.
  • Use the "buddy system" if you're working outside.  If you're working outside and suffer a heat-related illness, you could become confused or could lose consciousness. Therefore, make sure someone else knows of your plans. 

For more information about heat-related illnesses, visit the Virginia Department of Health's website at www.vdh.virginia.gov.

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