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Prevent Heat-Related Illness

July 6, 2010

(OLYMPIA) | July 6, 2010 | The Puget Sound area will experience higher than normal temperatures for the remainder of the week. Protect yourself and your loved ones from heat-related illness.

Exposure to excessive heat can cause illness, injury and even death. Approximately 688 people die each year from exposure to extreme heat (CDC). The elderly, young children and people with chronic health problems are most at risk.

Avoid heat-related illnesses by:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water; avoid beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol.
  • Dressing appropriately in lightweight clothing.
  • Avoiding strenuous activity in mid-day.
  • Staying indoors and using air conditioning, if possible.

Frequently check on those children and adults who are at risk and may be affected by the heat. Symptoms of heat related illnesses to watch for include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting

More serious symptoms include a rise in body temperature (could reach 103 degrees Fahrenheit), a strong, rapid pulse, a throbbing headache with dizziness and confusion, and nausea; their skin may become red, hot to the touch, and feel dry. People with these symptoms should seek medical help quickly.

If you know of someone who is elderly, disabled or home-bound due to illness, check on him or her frequently, particularly if they do not have fans or air conditioning. They are at a higher risk for health-related complications from the elevated temperatures.

Pierce County libraries and other facilities invite people to stop by and cool off. With temperatures expected to exceed 90 degrees in some places this week, these air conditioned facilities can be valuable respites from the heat. Citizens are also encouraged to take advantage of cooler air in other public buildings such as movie theaters, malls and other stores.

In addition, all Lowe's, Petco, and Petsmart locations and VCA Pacific Avenue Animal Hospital will allow people and their pets to come in and get out of the heat. Pets need to be on a leash or in a crate. Owners must provide water if they plan on staying for long periods of time.

Pierce County has listed locations of cooling centers (http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/xml/abtus/ourorg/communications/newslinks/coolingcenters2.pdf). Everyone is welcome at the cooling centers. The following are the locations and times the facilities will be open. (Please note, no food or beverages will be provided.)

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