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The Dog Days of Summer

Jul 21, 2016, 12:06 PM
grmc heat strokeTemperatures this week are predicted to rise, with highs reaching 99 degrees and heat index values predicted to reach between 105 and 115 degrees, at times. The heat index is to summer as the wind chill is to winter; it greatly affects what it feels like outside.

The developing heat wave has caused the National Weather Service to issue heat alerts for over a dozen states throughout the Midwest. Over half the counties in Iowa will be affected by this extreme heat, including Poweshiek County. Click here to see if your county is under an excessive heat watch.

Extreme heat and excessive humidity create a potentially deadly combination. The best way to stay safe during the excessive heat watch is by knowing what symptoms to watch out for and how to respond if those symptoms are expressed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), muscle cramping can be the first sign of heat-related illness, and can lead to more extreme illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke if left untreated.

Read over the following symptoms to identify heat exhaustion and heat stroke and learn what to do if you or someone around you is showing signs of either illness.

Heat Exhaustion:
Heavy sweating
Tiredness or weakness
Cold, pale, and clammy skin
Fast, weak pulse
Nausea or vomiting
What You Should Do:
Move to a cooler location.
Lie down and loosen clothing.
Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
Sip water.
If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.
Heat Stroke:
High body temperature (above 103°F)
Hot, red, dry, or moist skin
Rapid, strong pulse
Throbbing headache, dizziness, or confusion
Possible unconsciousness

What You Should Do:
Call 911 immediately.
Move the person to a cooler environment.
Reduce the person's body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
Do NOT give fluids.

Remember – heat stroke happens when heat exhaustion is left unattended. If symptoms do not resolve after an hour, or the person has heart or blood pressure issues, please seek immediate medical attention.

To help you beat the heat, there will be a cooling center available at Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s cafeteria, starting on Wednesday, July 20, until Friday, July 22, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The cooling center provides a refreshing environment to those who might not have air conditioning in their homes. If you do go outdoors, please try to abide by the safety tips outlined below to stay cooler.

Stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids and replace salt and minerals. Drinking something like Gatorade can help you do both at once!
Pace yourself – work slowly and take breaks in the shade often.
Limit strenuous outdoor activities.
Use a buddy system – watch others for signs of heat-induced illness.
Check in on elderly, sick, and those without AC.
Wear light, loose-fitting clothing and sunscreen.
Never leave children or pets unattended in cars!

Written by Miranda Jones, GRMC summer intern