Are You at Risk for Heat-Related Illness?

Are You at Risk for Heat-Related Illness?

August 16, 2019

August 16, 2019 - This summer we have seen a rise in temperature across the globe. Japan, Europe and parts of the United States have all seen record-high temperatures. In the United States, the excessive heat has led to at least six deaths so far this summer. In the month of August, a time of the year where we see peak temperatures, we want to be remindful of the dangers extreme heat poses and the ways you can prevent heat-related illness.

While everyone can be affected by extreme heat, vulnerable populations can be affected the most. Those with chronic conditions can experience poor blood circulation, increased dehydration and mental illness which increases the risk of heat-related illness. Medications can also increase risk. Some medications can alter your response to heat. Research has shown a linkage between psychotropic drugs and heat-related illness. These drugs can interfere with body temperature regulation and should be taken with caution during extreme heat. Heatstroke, a condition caused by your body overheating, occurs when body temperature reaches 104 F or higher.

 No matter your risk, heat-related illness, and death is preventable and can be avoided by following these hot weather tips.

Hot Weather Tips:

  • Stay in air-conditioned places. If you do not have air-conditioning in your home, go to public places such as malls, the library, or a heat-relief shelter. Local emergency management agencies will typically announce the location of heat-relief shelters near you.
  • Ask your doctor if your medications interfere with your ability to regulate body temperature or otherwise put you at risk for heat-related illness.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Be tactful about the times you choose to go outside. Consider going outside in the morning and evening when it is coolest.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Know the symptoms of heat-related illness – a rise in body temperature, headaches, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating.
  • If your friends or loved ones do not have air-conditioning, make sure to check on them frequently.
  • Do not leave children, the elderly, or pets in hot cars – even when the weather seems mild.
  • Monitor your local news for extreme heat alerts and stay informed of safety tips and resources available to you.

Find out more information about extreme heat and other natural disasters by visiting the CDC Natural Disaster and Severe Weather webpage. If you are taking medications that impact your response to heat, consider using Rx on the Run, a printable personalized wallet card that documents your prescriptions and other medical information. For a list of common psychotropic medications which can impair your response to heat, go here.

Dara Clay

Dara Clay is a Program Analyst, where she provides research and communication support for a variety of programs. Before Healthcare Ready, Dara worked at a conflict resolution focused non-profit, working to bring together healthcare leaders from across the aisle to move past divergent views and bring forth bipartisan solutions to our nation’s most pressing healthcare issues. She graduated with her Master of Public Health in May 2019. She also holds an undergraduate interdisciplinary degree in Health Administration and Business Administration. Some of her passions include health equity, disease prevention and public health surveillance. In her spare time, Dara enjoys traveling and spending time with family.