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DC Department of Health Offers Tips to Stay Safe in the Heat

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The DC Department of Health (DOH) reminds residents of the importance of staying healthy in the heat during the summer months.

As temperatures heat up, the DC Department of Health (DOH) reminds residents of the importance of staying healthy in the heat during the summer months. Below are tips on how residents can avoid heat stroke and stay cool during high temperatures. 

Groups at greatest risk for heat-related illness:

  • Infants
  • Children up to four years of age
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People who are overweight
  • People who are ill or on certain medications. 

Groups at greatest risk should be monitored carefully, and their environments should be regulated. The CDC recommends that adults at greatest risk be closely monitored and visited at least twice a day to view for possible signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children should also be closely monitored.  

DOH Tips for Staying Healthy and Cool in the Heat:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stay out of the sun
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, and large amounts of sugar
  • Wear clothing that is loose-fitting, light colored and breathable, such as cotton
  • Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing and shade their heads and faces with hats or an umbrella
  • Limit sun exposure during mid-day hours and in places of potential severe exposure such as beaches and wear sunscreen
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully
  • Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car
  • Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area

Heat stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is “the most serious heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.”

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Hot, dry skin (no sweating)
  • Hallucinations
  • Chills
  • Throbbing headache
  • High body temperature
  • Confusion/dizziness
  • Slurred speech  

If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing a heat related illness, please call 911. Department of Human Services (DHS) will be working with the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP) to open up cooling centers and provide water to District residents once an emergency heat alert is declared; this action is taken to prevent dehydration and heat stroke.  Those in need of transportation to a DHS Cooling Center can call 800-535-7252 for assistance.  

For more information on heat-related illness prevention, select here.