As Louisiana residents continue the cleanup from Hurricane Ida, soaring heat is a real threat to their safety.
High temperatures kill more than 700 people in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, with electric power still out in many parts of the state, the risk is even higher for those working in the heat and humidity.
The CDC says everyone should take whatever measures they can to stay cool and remain hydrated.
If you get too hot, you can become ill because your body can’t compensate and properly cool you off.
The main things affecting your body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather are:
High humidity: When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly. This keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to, the CDC says.
Personal factors: Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn and prescription drug and alcohol use all can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.
Those who are at highest risk include people 65 and older, children younger than 2 and people with chronic diseases or mental illness.
Even young and healthy people, however, can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
The CDC urges everyone to take the following precautions to prevent illness or death:
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as you can. Air-conditioning is the No. 1 way to protect yourself against heat-related illness and death. If your home is not air-conditioned, reduce your risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned and using air conditioning in vehicles. Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
- Pace your activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling device during an extreme heat event.
- Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
- Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
- Don’t use the stove or oven to cook — it will make you and your house hotter.
- Limit your outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
- Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Never leave children or pets in cars.
Signs of heat stroke
- High body temperature (103 F or higher)
- Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
- Fast, strong pulse
- Losing consciousness (passing out)
What to do:
- Call 911 right away — heat stroke is a medical emergency
- Move the person to a cooler place
- Help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath
- Do not give the person anything to drink