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Missouri Health Department

Sunny with a Chance of Heat Stroke

Courtesy of Missouri Health Department

Missourians suffer from heat related illnesses, with some cases resulting in death.
Who is at risk? The elderly, infants and young children, people working outdoors, people living with chronic medical conditions, the homeless and the poor, people taking certain medications, and athletes are most at risk for heat related illnesses.
Take precautions:
* Spend time in an air conditioned place.
* Check on family, friends and neighbors, especially the elderly.
* Limit outdoor activity, wear sunglasses, hats, light weight and light colored clothing and sunscreen.
* Avoid using the stove or oven to cook.
* Don’t leave children or animals in parked cars.
* Schedule activities early in the day or late in the evening.
* Drink lots of caffeine-free, non-alcoholic and non-sugary beverages.
* Take cool showers or baths.
* Don’t use recreational drugs. They impair judgment and the body’s response to temperatures.
* Take care of animals, they are also susceptible to the heat.
Certain types of medications can increase the risk of temperature related illnesses, such as:
* Antidepressants
* Laxatives
* Anti-Parkinson drugs
* Diuretics or water pills
* Psychiatric drugs
* Heart medication
* Some antihistamines
* Amphetamines
* Sleeping pills
* Chemotherapy drugs

Dehydration– occurs when the fluids leaving the body are not replenished. Warning signs:
* Thirst
* Decreased urine output
* Dry, sticky mouth
* Few or no tears when crying
* Headache
* Shriveled, dry skin lacking elasticity
* Dizziness
* Sunken soft spot
on infant’s head
* Muscle weakness
* Sunken eyes
* Lack of sweating
* Low blood

Heat Exhaustion – is a milder form of heat related illness than heat stroke that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. If not treated it can lead to heat stroke. Warning signs:
* Heavy sweating
* Fainting
* Fast, weak pulse
* Chills
* Tiredness
* Irritability
* Weakness
* Muscle cramps
* Paleness
* Nausea or vomiting
* Dizziness
* Clammy skin

What to do: move to a cool place and lie flat with feet elevated; apply cool wet cloths to the forehead and wrists; sip cool beverages; call 911 if treatment doesn’t work.
Heat Stroke – is the most serious heat related illness. It occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature. The body loses its ability to sweat and cannot cool down. It can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs:
* High body temperature-above 103°
* Convulsions
* Dizziness
* No sweating (red, hot and dry skin)
* Nausea
* Tingling sensations
* Confusion
* Throbbing headache

What to do: call 911 or emergency room for instructions; move to cool place; lie flat and elevate feet; do not give fluids by mouth; immerse in cool (not cold) water or sponge with cool water and fan vigorously; monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until temperature drops to 101-102°F.
During extreme heat many areas offer cooling centers for public use. In Pike County cooling centers are located at the Bowling Green Library, 201 W. Locust St., and the Louisiana Library at 121 N. 3rd St.
For more information on heat related illnesses and the location of cooling centers visit the Missouri Department of Health’s website at