With temperatures expected this week in the mid to high 90s, the Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services (Health Department) is advising residents to take precautions to prevent heat-related injury and illness.
"We are reminding residents to be safe and take precautions to protect themselves, especially while participating in outdoor activities," said Dr. Mitchell Kushner, City Health Officer. “When it's hot outside, prolonged sun exposure can cause health problems such as dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Infants and very young children, older adults, and people with chronic illness are at an increased risk for these conditions.”
Dr. Kushner also notes that schools, day camps, and non-school related sports organizations or athletes should take extra precautions during extreme heat. Practices and other outdoor activities should be scheduled for very early or very late in the day in order to limit the amount of time spent in the sun and heat.
Everyone should take precautions to reduce the risk of heat-related illness and injury:
Remain hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after outdoor activities; avoid beverages that have caffeine or alcohol
Take frequent breaks while working or playing outdoors; plan strenuous outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day; limit time outside during peak heat; pace physical activities, starting slowly and picking up the pace gradually
Wear loose-fitting, light clothing; wear a wide-brimmed hat to cover the face, ears and neck if you’ll be outside
Apply sunscreen (at least SPF 15) 15 minutes before going outdoors and re-apply at least every two hours – sunscreen prevents skin cancer
Wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent UVA and UVB protection – chronic exposure to the sun can cause cataracts
Seek air-conditioned environments during peak heat at libraries, stores, malls, theaters, etc.
Check on frail elderly or home-bound individuals to make sure they are not affected by the heat
Move to a cooler location at the first sign of heat illness (dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps); rest and slowly drink a cool liquid
It is critically important to never leave children, elderly people, or pets unattended in homes with no air conditioning and particularly in vehicles, even with the windows 'cracked’ or open, as temperatures inside can quickly rise to life-threatening levels
Make sure pets have plenty of shade and water to drink
Prevent children from drowning by providing adult supervision at all times and having an entry-proof barrier that surrounds the pool or spa
Additionally, it’s important to know the warning signs of heat-related illness, and get medical care immediately if you or someone you know experiences any of these signs:
Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to losing too much water and salt (through sweat). Those most likely to develop heat exhaustion are elderly people and those working or exercising in a hot environment. Warning signs include:
Nausea or vomiting
Paleness, tiredness, and dizziness
Heat exhaustion should be treated immediately with rest in a cool area, sipping water or a sports drink, applying cool and wet cloths, and elevating the feet 12 inches. If left untreated, victims may go into heat stroke. Seek medical attention if the person does not respond to the above basic treatment.
Heat Stroke: Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. A person’s temperature rises quickly, but the body is unable to cool down (by sweating). Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not received. Warning signs of heat stroke may include:
An extremely high body temperature (above 103º F)
Dizziness, nausea, and confusion
Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
Rapid, strong pulse
A throbbing headache
Heat stroke may lead to brain damage and death. If you believe someone is experience heat stroke:
Move victim to a cool shaded area
Fan the body, and spray body with water
For more information on how to stay healthy during hot weather please visit the Health Department’s website at www.longbeach.gov/health