Staying Safe in the Heat
by: Laurie Johnson, May 28, 2010 8:05:00 pm
If you're from the Houston area it may seem self-evident that summers here can be brutal and you need to be careful when you're outside for long periods.
But Houston is a city of immigrants and newcomers who may not know how to handle the notorious heat and humidity.
City of Houston Health Department Spokesman Porfirio Villareal says this is the time of year when many people
start spending a lot of time outside — and if you're not careful that can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
"We try to get the message out as soon as we see that those temperatures start inching toward the mid-90s. That can be really dangerous and we know that as temperatures rise so does the risk for heat-related illnesses."
In extreme cases, heat stroke can cause death. The body becomes so overheated that it loses its ability to cool down. But there are symptoms to watch for long before it gets that bad.
"Profuse sweating, very pale skin, dizzy, nausea, extreme tiredness -- if that is not taken care of or somebody's moved to air conditioning or take plenty of liquids then that can progress to heat stroke. And with heat stroke, that's an emergency."
Villareal says they're most concerned about the elderly, who are often more vulnerable to the heat.
"You want to take the initiative, don't wait for them to tell you that they are sick. You want to make sure you take the initiative, go check on the elderly and make sure they're not suffering."
Health officials say people who spend time in the heat should drink plenty of water, wear loose, light clothing and try to exercise or do hard work outdoors only in the early morning or late evening hours.