With temps hovering between the 80s and 90s this week in Beverly Hills, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center wants to share some simple steps with locals about dealing with the current heat wave:
- Be able to recognize heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke: symptoms include heavy sweating, dizziness, headache, nausea, weakness, muscle cramps, chills, cool, clammy skin. If symptoms are severe seek immediate medical attention. Otherwise, take cooling measures, such as drinking cool water, resting, cooling in a bath or showing, moving into an air-conditioned area. If symptoms do not improve, seek medical attention.
- Recognize heat stroke, which is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include high body temperature; flushed, hot, dry skin with no sweating; vomiting; weak, rapid pulse; decreased alertness; changes in consciousness; confusion; and shallow, rapid breathing. Call 911 or seek immediate emergency medical assistance. While waiting for first responders, continue measures to keep the patient cool, such as immersing in cool water if possible, sponging with cool water, moving into an air conditioned area.
- When the heat index rises to 100 degrees or more, limit outdoor activities. If you must be outside, limit your time to no more than 60 to 90 minutes at a time with 10-minute water breaks every 20 minutes.
- Hydrate before you go outside or exercise. Drink at least 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before exercising or going outside. Guzzle another 10 ounces about 15 minutes before starting activity. Then, keep replenishing with 10 ounces or so of water at least every 20 minutes.
- Drink water in frequent, small amounts. Drink 8 ounces at a time, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty. By then, you’re already running low on fluids.
- Water is best. Alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks will contribute to dehydration.
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Sunscreen generally does not provide instant protection, so be sure to apply it 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply at least every two hours. More often if swimming or sweating.
- Don’t rely on sunscreen alone for protection. Cover up with loose-fitting clothing, as well as a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid the outdoors and find a cool place during the hottest hours of the day—usually from 10 a,m. to 4 p.m. Malls, movie theaters, libraries, or local cooling centers can provide refuge from the heat.
- Cars heat up to lethal temperatures in hot weather in minutes. Never leave children, adults or pets unattended in a car. Visit elderly friends or relatives who live alone to be sure that they can protect themselves in the heat.
“More people have died in heat waves in this country over a 20-year period than of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning strikes combined,” Dr. Joel Geiderman, co-chair of the Cedars-Sinai Emergency Department, said in a statement. “But common sense measures can prevent many of these deaths.”