NYC heat advisory in effect: recognizing a heat health emergency
The National Weather Service’s heat advisory continues for Manhattan, which remains in the grip of unhealthy high temperatures. Staying in your (hopefully!) air-conditioned apartment is one way to beat the heat, but for those who participate in outdoor exercise or must be outdoors for work or to run errands, it’s important to recognize the onset of a heat health emergency.
The three most common heat disorders, in order of severity, are heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat cramps may appear during strenuous activity, which causes heavy perspiration. The condition features muscle pain and spasms in the limbs or abdomen. If you suspect heat cramps, immediately stop what you are doing and get to a cool place. Drink cool liquids to bring the body temperature down. To prevent an onset of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, remain in a cool location and avoid all heavy activity for the rest of the day.
Heat exhaustion can occur after prolonged exposure to high temperatures, usually accompanied by inadequate fluid intake. It can appear after spending days or even hours in high tempoeratures. Though the illness is associated with the elderly and those with high blood pressure, anyone who spends a lot of time in hot environments is vulnerable. Signs are heavy sweating, cold and clammy skin, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, fainting, weak pulse, nausea and even vomiting.
Should you experience any of symptoms of heat exhaustion, get yourself immediately to a cool place. If vomiting or fainting, immediately seek medical attention. If you aren’t nauseated, begin drinking cool beverages. Loosen clothing or change into lighter clothing if necessary. Applying cool, wet compresses, or taking a cool shower or bath, can also help lower body temperature.
Heat stroke is the most severe heat health emergency. It happens when the body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees. WIth heat stroke, the body’s temperature rises so rapidly, the body doesn’t have time to activate its sweating mechanism in time to allow it to cool itself down. Symptoms include pink or red skin, high body temperature (which, to the touch will feel like a high fever), a rapid throbbing pulse, a pounding headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness.
Heat stroke is a serious illness. If you or someone near you seems to be affected by heat stroke, call 911 immediately and, if possible, quickly move to a cooler location. Brain damage or death can occur within 10 to 15 minutes. Do not give fluids. Instead, remove clothing, use cool compresses or douse with cool liquid, fan the skin.