Doña Ana County



With an early summer heat wave stifling the area, paramedics at American Medical Response (AMR) have issued these tips for preventing potentially fatal heat illness and providing first aid when heat illness strikes.

Never leave a child or elderly person unattended in a motor vehicle, even with a window slightly open. This applies to pets as well. On a typically sunny day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach potentially deadly levels within a few minutes.

When restraining children in a car that has been parked in the heat, check to make sure seating surfaces and equipment (car seats and seat belt buckles) are not overly hot.

What are the warning signs of a heat stroke? An extremely high body temperature (above 103 F.); red, hot and dry skin with no sweating; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.

Who is at greatest risk for heat-related illness? Infants, children up to four-years-old, adults age 65 and older, people who are overweight, people who are ill and those on certain medications.

During hot weather you need to drink more liquid than your thirst indicates. Drink water or commercial “sport drinks” frequently. Drink before you start strenuously work and before you get hot. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine because they will cause you to lose more fluid. - more–

Page two – Heat Safety Tips

What to do if you see someone with the warning signs of a heat stroke: Call 9-1-1 for immediate medical assistance; move the victim to a shady area; cool the victim rapidly, using whatever methods you can – immerse the person in a cool but not cold shower or bath, spray with cool water from a garden hose, sponge the person with cool water. If the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a wet sheet and fan him/her vigorously. Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102 F. Never give anything to drink to anyone who less than fully alert. Even if the victim is fully alert, do not give him alcohol to drink.

What is the best clothing for hot weather or a heat wave? Wear as little clothing as possible while at home. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. An umbrella, parasol or loose-weave hat will provide some shade. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outdoors and continue to reapply periodically. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids.

Can medications increase the risk of heat-related illness? Yes. The risk may increase for those using psychotropics (e.g. haloperidol or chlorpromazine), medications for Parkinson’s disease because they can inhibit perspiration, and tranquilizers (e.g. phenothiazines, butyrophenones and thiozanthenes).

Summary: How can we protect our health when temperatures are extremely high? Remember to keep cool and use common sense. Drink plenty of fluid, replace salts and minerals by drinking “sports drinks,” wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen, pace yourself, stay cool indoors, schedule outdoor activities carefully, use a buddy system to monitor those at risk and adjust to the environment.

Sources: National Safe Kids Campaign and the National Center for Environmental Health.