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Thursday, July 8, 2010

High Temperatures Continue - Tips for Health and Wellness

A heat wave continues in Prince George’s County and the Atlantic Coast States as temperatures continue to reach into the upper 90’s. Humidity levels will push the heat indexes into the 100’s. This year 8 people, 1 in Prince George’s County, have died in Maryland from heat related illnesses according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Prince George’s County Paramedics have transported nearly 3 dozen people to area hospitals over the last six days with heat related illnesses. Other illnesses are often triggered by high heat and unhealthy air quality which are harmful to children and anyone with breathing or heart conditions causing additional responses by fire/EMS personnel. Call volume during the past 2 weeks has been up about 10-20%.

The volunteer and career men and women of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department want you to stay safe during this current heat pattern. It is important to recognize symptoms of heat related illness and take action quickly.


Heatstroke is a serious illness characterized by a body temperature greater than 105 degrees. Symptoms may include dry red skin, convulsions, disorientation, delirium and coma. Onset of heatstroke can be rapid: a person can go from feeling apparently well to a seriously ill condition within minutes. Treatment of heatstroke involves the rapid lowering of body temperature, using a cool bath or wet towels. A heatstroke victim should be kept in a cool area; emergency medical care should be obtained by dialing 911.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heatstroke that may develop due to a combination of several days with high temperatures and dehydration in an individual. Signs of heat exhaustion include extreme weakness, muscle cramps, nausea, or headache. Victims may also vomit or faint. Heat exhaustion is treated with plenty of liquids and rest in a cool, shaded area. If the persons condition does not show signs of improvement call 911.

Follow these safety tips to help keep you safe.


• Drink plenty of fluids such as water and fruit juices to prevent dehydration -- be aware that alcohol can impair the body's sweat mechanism, as can fairly common medications such as antihistamines and diuretics;

• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes;

• Avoid direct sunlight by staying in the shade and by wearing sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses;

• When possible, stay in air-conditioned areas. If your home is not air-conditioned, consider a visit to a shopping mall or public library.

• NEVER leave pets or young children in a car, even with the windows cracked;

• Check on elderly relatives or neighbors at least daily; and

• Take it easy when outdoors. Athletes and those who work outdoors should take short breaks when feeling fatigued. Schedule physical activity during the morning or evening when it is cooler.

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