Public Health urges residents to take precautions to prevent heat-related illness

Published Date

Clark County Public Health is urging residents to take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses during the upcoming stretch of hot weather.

Several days next week temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 90s and may climb above 100 degrees. Overnight low temperatures are expected to be in the mid to upper 60s. The length of the hot spell, coupled with warm overnight temperatures that provide little relief from the heat, can create a risk to health and safety.

“It’s important that people find reprieve from the heat. Spending even a few hours in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director. “If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, go to a cooling center or a public place with air conditioning or ask if you can visit a friend or family member with air conditioning in their home.”

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) is compiling a list of cooling centers open during the upcoming extreme heat. Additional sites may be added.

Periods of intense or prolonged heat can lead to heat-related illness, even in young and healthy people. Elderly people, babies and young children, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at higher risk of developing heat-related illness. Public Health encourages people to regularly check on friends, family members and neighbors who may be at increased risk.

Here are some steps to take to prevent heat-related illness:

  • Stay indoors, in an air-conditioned location, as much as possible.
  • Drink more water and other nonalcoholic fluids, regardless of your activity level.
  • Limit intake of drinks with caffeine, alcohol or lots of sugar.
  • Never leave a person, especially a young child or elderly person, or a pet in a parked vehicle. Temperatures can rise rapidly in parked vehicles, even with the windows rolled down.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.

People who need to be outside should take these precautions:

  • Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours when temperatures are cooler and drink two to four glasses of nonalcoholic fluids each hour.
  • Check on co-workers while working outdoors.
  • Rest often in shady areas.
  • Wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses; apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.

Know the signs

Knowing the signs of heat illness is important. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Warning signs of heat stroke include:

  • body temperature above 103 degrees
  • red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
  • rapid pulse
  • throbbing headache
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • confusion

If someone is experiencing signs of heat stroke, call 911. Place the person in distress in a bath or cool shower or spray the person with cool water from a garden hose. Do not give the person fluids to drink.

Less severe heat-related illnesses include heat exhaustion and muscle cramps. Signs of heat exhaustion are:

  • heavy sweating
  • cold, pale and clammy skin
  • tiredness
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting

When experiencing heat exhaustion, cool the body by drinking nonalcoholic, cool beverages, moving to an air-conditioned place, taking a cool (not cold) bath or shower, and wearing lightweight clothing. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last more than an hour.

Find more information and tips for preventing heat-related illness on the Public Health website.