Ridgefield, New Jersey

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Keep it Cool
Keep it Cool

Summertime activity, whether on the playing field or the construction site, must be balanced with measures that aid the body's cooling mechanisms and prevent heat-related illness. People suffer heat-related illness when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating but in extreme heat and high humidity the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.
Heat-related deaths and illness like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash are preventable, yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat. Historically, from 1979 to 1999, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States. Those at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to four years of age, people 65 years of age and older, people who are overweight, and people who are ill or on certain medications. However, even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.

The Best Defense is Prevention! Keep Cool and Use Common Sense….

•    Stay indoors as much as possible, in air conditioning (inspect, clean, or replace your AC filters regularly). If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

•    Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Light colors reflect more of the sun’s energy than dark colors.

•    Drink plenty of fluids especially water, avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.

•    Eat light meals spread out over the day.

•    Reduce activity levels and avoid getting sunburned, use protection if you must go out.

•    Use a buddy system, watch out for others and monitor those at risk. Don’t leave children, a frail elderly or disabled person or pets in an enclosed car, not even for a minute, as temperatures can quickly climb to dangerous levels.


•    Heat Stroke
•    Heat Exhaustion
•    Heat Syncope
•    Heat Cramps
•    Heat Rash
Heat Stroke (sunstroke)
What it is:
•    a substantial rise in body temperature when the body cannot rid itself of excess heat
What to look for:
•    skin very hot and dry (usually no sweat)
•    very rapid onset
•    dizziness, nausea, confusion, often unconsciousness
What to do:
•    move the person to a cool area
•    lower body temperature AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE
•    immerse in or pour cool water over the person
 Heat Exhaustion
What it is:
•    a mild form of shock from excess exposure to heat
What to look for:
•    pale and clammy skin, profuse sweating
•    body temperature close to normal
•    headache, dizziness, fatigue, sometimes abdominal cramps
What to do:
•    move the person to a cool area
•    make the person as cool as possible while preventing a chill (watch for shivering)
•    if the person is conscious, give cool water to drink
•    seek medical attention as quickly as possible     

 Heat Syncope
What it is:
•    loss of consciousness because of decreased blood flow to the heart and brain as the blood pools in the extremities
What to look for:
•    sudden loss of consciousness
•    person suddenly regains consciousness when lying down
What to do:
•    allow person to rest
•    remove the person from the environment or activity which caused the person to lose consciousness

 Heat Rash (prickly heat)
What it is:
•    rash caused by blocked sweat ducts
What to look for:
•    skin rash
•    tingling or prickling sensation where the rash is
What to do:
•    shower or wash frequently
•    dry thoroughly
•    change into dry clothing
•    avoid exposure to heat until the rash is gone
 Heat Cramps
What it is:
•    painful muscle cramps resulting from profuse perspiration
What to look for:
•    mild to severe cramps in the arms, legs, and/or abdomen from working in a hot environment OR drinking iced drinks very quickly or in too large quantities
•    pale, moist skin with heavy sweating
•    occasional nausea or faintness
What to do:
•    move the person to a cool area
•    do not massage muscles
•    if not nauseated, slowly give one or two glasses of a sport drink
•    do not resume the activity which caused the cramps for at least 12 hours or the cramps may return

 General Tips to Prevent Heat-Related Illness
•    Spend whatever time possible in air conditioned areas, even if only a few hours each day.
•    Ensure adequate food (light meals) and fluid intake. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, and see your physician about whether you need additional salt.
•    Whenever possible, reduce activity levels in very hot weather.
•    Because the elderly are particularly susceptible to the effects of heat, they or their caretakers should make a special effort to follow the guidelines in this brochure.
•    Because young children under five years of age, and especially under one year, are also sensitive to heat's effects, parents and caretakers should be careful not to overdress them, and to give them plenty of fluids.
•    Wear a hat when outdoors
•    Exercise early or late in the day
•    Remember, some pets can be affected by the heat. Ask your veterinarian for advice.
•    In cases of health emergencies, you should call your physician, or visit your local hospital emergency room.

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