As temperatures soar, take precautions for health

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With temperatures climbing near triple digits over the past week, many Switzerland County residents are choosing to stay inside and out of the weather.

But what if you can’t stay inside? What if your job or other activities force you out and into the heat? Randy See, director of Switzerland County EMS, has some advice and precautions that may help you and others avoid serious health issues.

“People first of all need to keep hydrated and drink plenty of fluids,” Randy See said. “If they have any kind of breathing problems or if they are sick, they need to stay out of the heat and inside in the air conditioning.”

People with health issues need to especially be conscious of the middle of the day, when temperatures are at their peak. Strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day may lead to serious medical problems.

“Just use common sense if you have to be out in the sun,” Randy See said. “Take plenty of breaks if you are working outside, just don’t overdo it.”

Randy See said that people who must work outside also need to work more slowly than they normally would, and be on the lookout for symptoms of overheating and more serious health issues.

“If they suddenly stop sweating or get dizzy or faint, they need to get out of the heat immediately and seek some medical attention,” Randy See said.

The tell-tale sign of a heat-related problem is if a person is sweating, and then suddenly stops sweating. If that happens, something could be seriously wrong.

Randy See said that high temperatures are also particularly hard on people who have breathing problems, so anyone who has those types of issues should only go out when absolutely necessary.

And what if you’re with a person who appears to be in heat distress?

“If you recognize that someone is in distress, you need to get them in out of the heat, first thing,” Randy See said. “Then call 911 and get us on our way. Loosen up some of their clothing, and place a wet washcloth to their head. A spray bottle with water can also help lower their body temperature slowly, which is what you want to do.”

Randy See said that trying to cool someone down too quickly could put the person into shock, so it’s best to work to cool the person’s body slowly until help arrives.

“You don’t want to put ice of them or anything like that. No more than water,” he said. “The person needs to sit down and relax, and try and help the person stay calm until we get there.”

Along with heat issues, Randy See said that people who are going to be outside – not only during these times of high temperatures but any time during the summer months - needs to take the time to apply a proper sunscreen to parts of their body that will be exposed to the sun.

“We know the sun causes cancer to the skin,” Randy See said. “People need to take precautions before being outside in it. Without sunscreen, you could get up to a second-degree burn if you stay out too long.”

Randy See said that Switzerland County EMS has already had many heat-related runs, mostly breathing related, as the temperatures have risen over the past week, and noted that humidity levels can also seriously impact people who are outside.

“The best course of action is to stay inside unless you have to be out,” Randy See said. “And if you have to be outside, take precautions before going out and then be aware of your condition while you are outside. This can be very serious if people ignore it.”

Anyone wanting more information may contact Switzerland County EMS at 427-3750.

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The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for Switzerland County yesterday (Wednesday) morning; warning that high pressure across the Ohio Valley will result in temperatures in the mid 90s today (Thursday).

The National Weather Service is calling for a 60-percent chance of scattered thunderstorms tomorrow (Friday) with temperatures in the mid 80s; but a return to sunny conditions and high temperatures is expected to return for the weekend.

Thunderstorms are being predicted for Monday through Thursday next week, but temperatures are expected to remain in the upper 80s and low 90s daily.