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Beat the heat

June 6, 2011

With temperatures having already eclipsed the 100-degree mark, officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) are urging Texans to take precautions.

Emily Palmer, spokesperson for DSHS, said the elderly, the very young, people with chronic diseases and those without access to air conditioning are those most likely to suffer in extremely hot weather.

“Typically, the most deaths are recorded in July, followed by August, then June,” said Palmer. “Staying in an air-conditioned area, either at home or in a public place such as a mall, library or recreation center, is the most effective way to combat heat. If air conditioning is not available, open the windows, pull the shades down to keep out the sun and use cross-ventilation and fans to cool rooms.”

Palmer said the symptoms of heat-related illnesses are no joking matter, and could lead to serious health problems — even death.
“Symptoms of heat illness include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, nausea, weak but rapid pulse and headaches,” said Palmer. “People with these symptoms should find shade, drink water slowly and make sure there is good ventilation.

“To help a person showing severe symptoms, get the victim into shade, call for emergency medical services and start cooling the person immediately with cool water or by fanning. If fluids are not replaced soon enough, heat stroke can follow causing extremely high body temperature, red and dry skin, rapid pulse, confusion, brain damage, loss of consciousness and death.”

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