Keep yourself protected from the heat

Published 10:58 am Monday, July 18, 2005

By By JULIE RUSSELL- The Brewton Standard
The cities of Brewton and East Brewton managed to sustain minimal damage from Dennis's hurricane force winds this weekend. However, limbs and other debris were strewn about residents' yards.
Heat indexes climbed up to the upper 90s and humidity was at 100 percent following Dennis' landfall and homeowners were busy cleaning up yards following the hurricane.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) urges residents to take precautions while cleaning debris in order to prevent heat-related illnesses during the hottest months of the year.
Bernie Wall, a Brewton resident and business administrator at Jefferson Davis Community College, said that while he cleaned debris from his yard Tuesday afternoon, he made sure to take plenty of breaks in the shade, while applying a cold towel to his head. Wall also suggested wearing light, loose-fitting clothing, advice he learned during his 22 years with the army.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that heat can kill by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In excessive heat, the body must work overtime to maintain a cool temperature.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 20-year span between 1979 and 1999 yielded 8,015 deaths in the United States. The danger of illnesses and deaths caused by heat is especially prevalent in areas with high humidity.
Most problems arise from not drinking enough liquids. Heat strokes, for instance, are often linked to dehydration. To avoid dehydration, it is important to drink adequate amounts of water.
Regina Watson, ER nurse manager at D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital said Gatorade and water are the best liquids to drink in the heat.
The ADPH suggests avoiding liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar, because these beverages can cause a loss of body fluid. It is also suggested to avoid very cold drinks, as they can cause stomach cramps.
Other tips to stay safe in the summer sun include:
Stay out of direct sunlight. Easy access to cool shelter should always be available.
Don't forget about pets. Animals do not sweat, and therefore need plenty of water and shade.
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. The sun's rays are reflected by light colors, but absorbed by dark colors.
Refrain from outside work and exercise during the hottest part of the day. If you must work outside, alternate work with frequent cooling-off periods in shaded areas. Also, try to work with a friend so that someone will be near, should danger arise.
If air-conditioning is not available, use wet sheets with electric fans to help circulate cool air. If temperatures are above 90 degrees, move to a place that does have air-conditioning.
Eat lightly, but often and avoid high-protein foods, such as nuts, which increase metabolic heat.
It is important to stay alert for symptoms of heat-related illnesses, such as dizziness, weakness, rapid heartbeat, throbbing headache, inability to sweat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps.
To help a person suffering from heat exhaustion, move him or her to a cooler area, loosen tight clothing, apply cool cloths and help the person slowly drink a half glass of cold water every 15 minutes.
During trips to the beach, or any other outdoor vacation, be sure to stock up on hydrating drinks and sunscreen. It is suggested to apply one full ounce of sunscreen per application. Other good purchases are sunglasses, portable fans, hats and umbrellas.

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