By Lina Younes
As I was watching the news last night on the ongoing extreme weather conditions this summer, I was struck by something the reporter said. Did you know that heat waves are the most common cause of weather-related deaths in the United States? Did you know that heat waves have caused more deaths in this country than other extreme weather events (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes) combined?
So, what is something we should do immediately to survive this extreme heat? Make sure that we drink plenty of water to stay hydrated!
The elderly, children and pregnant women are most susceptible to extreme temperatures. We should note that as part of the aging process, adults in their golden years tend to lose their sense of thirst. Thus, they are at a greater risk of dehydration and they are more vulnerable to environmental impacts. On the other hand, children can easily become dehydrate during outdoor activities and they don’t recognize the symptoms of heatstroke. In children, what are some of these warning signs?
- Decreased physical activity
- Lack of tears when crying
- Dry mouth
- Irritability and fussiness
If you don’t drink cool water regularly, dehydration can lead to heat stroke which can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
What are some of the signs of heat stroke?
- Skin is flushed, red and dry
- Little or no sweating
- Deep breathing
- Dizziness, headache, and/or fatigue
- Less urine is produced, of a dark yellowish color
- Confusion, loss of consciousness
- In adults, hallucinations and aggression
In addition to staying hydrated, stay in a cool place as much as possible.
How about people who have to work outdoors even during this extreme heat? They should try scheduling frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas. They should dress appropriately with loose, light-weight clothing and light colors. They should wear wide brimmed hats and sunglasses.
So, remember to drink cool water often. Enjoy the summer and stay safe. Do you have any recommendations on how to survive the heat? We love to hear from you.
About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.