According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. Extreme heat means that there are temperatures that hover 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region and last for several weeks. Normally, when you get hot, your body cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn't enough. In such cases, a person's body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.
Hydrate. Whether you feel thirsty or not, drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated, especially when you're working or exercising outside.
Educate yourself. Keep up with the latest temperature and heat index forecasts and current readings (take actions to stay cool and safe when the temperatures hits 85 degrees or the heat index hits 90 degrees). Know the warning signs of a heat illness, and how you can stay cool.
Act quickly when a heat illness is suspected. Seek medical attention immediately for any of these warning signs: cramping, rapid pulse, heavy sweating, hot red skin, dizziness, confusion, nausea, vomiting.
Take it easy. Anyone working or exercising outdoors should avoid overexertion, especially between the hours of 11 am and 6 pm. Take hourly breaks in the shade or in air conditioning.
The CDC has good information on precautions to take during hot weather. They also explain how you can recognize and treat heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburns and heat rash. Visit the North Carolina Heat Data and Prevention website for more information and reports on heat-related illness.
In hot and cool weather it is very important to remember to never leave children in cars. Cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. Anyone left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death. Children who are left unattended in parked cars are at greatest risk for heat stroke, and possibly death. When traveling with children, remember to do the following:
When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.