Are You at Risk
Extreme heat is more than an issue of discomfort. It forces the body into overdrive as it tries to stay cool through perspiration and evaporation.
People in urban areas are at greater risk because the stagnant atmospheric conditions trap pollutants in the air, which, when breathed can trigger respiratory problems for many people.
The effects of extreme heat can undermine your physical well-being so slowly and subtly that the dangers aren't apparent until it's too late.
No matter where you live, it is important to recognize the real dangers of extreme heat and take action to offset its impact at its earliest stages.
The gradual nature of extreme heat's effects on the body make it important that you be aware of the following heat-related illnesses:
- Severe Sunburn - So much more than a dermatologic issue, sunburn reduces the skin's ability to release excess heat, making the body more susceptible to heat-related illness.
- Heat Cramps - Muscle pains and spasms caused by heavy exertion, which triggers loss of water through heavy perspiration. These usually involve the muscles of the abdomen or legs.
- Heat Exhaustion - A mild form of shock marked by heavy sweating, weakness, cold, clammy skin, a weak pulse, fainting and vomiting. This usually occurs when people have been exercising heavily or working in a warm humid place. The blood flow to the skin increases - in an attempt to cool the body - causing the blood flow to the vital organs to decrease.If not treated, the victim's condition will worsen; the body temperature will keep rising, possibly leading to heat stroke.
- Note: simple overexposure to extreme heat can precipitate this condition in very young children and the elderly.
- Heat Stroke (also called Sunstroke) - A truly life-threatening condition in which the body's internal thermostat has ceased to work. Your ability to sweat stops, and the temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may occur in less than ten minutes unless medical help is immediate.