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Dog Days Of Summer Have Arrived

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Weather forecasts for this weekend and the next several weeks predict triple digit temperatures for Dallas County marking the start of the hottest period of the summer. This type extreme heat increases the risk of heat related illnesses, injuries and death.

The combination of daytime highs above 100 degrees, nighttime lows over 75 and high levels of humidity during extended periods of time result in dangerous conditions for everyone. The elderly, the very young and persons with preexisting health conditions are especially at risk for heat related illnesses.

"DCHHS conducts syndromic surveillance with our hospital emergency rooms and County Medical Examiners office to monitor and track cases of heat related illness and death among Dallas County residents," stated Zachary Thompson, DCHHS Director. "In doing so, we are able to identify trends in the community and issue public health alerts to citizens and community partners. This also allows DCHHS to respond in various ways to many community wide emergencies from conducting door to door checks in neighborhoods to the opening of heat shelters to providing air conditioning to elderly and disabled residents." The DCHHS Heat Related Illness Surveillance Program was recently selected as a Model Practice by the National Association of City and County Health Officials.

During 2007, the DCHHS Heat Related Illness Surveillance Program received reports of 155 heat related incidences? 130 cases of Heat exhaustion, 12 cases of Heat Cramps, and 13 cases of Heat Stroke. There were no deaths related to heat reported in the County last year. This mirrors the fact the last year was a cooler season with lower temperatures and fewer instances of extended periods of dangerously how heat and humidity. In 1998 there were 35 deaths, in 2001 there were 15 deaths, in 2004 there was 1 death, in 2005 there were no deaths and in 2006 there were 21 deaths.

If you notice someone suddenly experiencing sudden high temperature (but less than 104 degrees), hot and flushed skin that might be clammy to the touch, muscle or stomach cramps, nausea and/or vomiting, headache, profuse sweating, rapid pulse, or dizziness they may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is not usually a life threatening condition. The important rules to remember regarding heat exhaustion are to get the ill person out of the sun. Replace the body's lost fluids and salt by having the person drink lots of water, Gatorade, decaffeinated iced tea, or juice. Cool the person's body with fans, cool towels, or sprays.

Keep the sufferer out of the sun for the next 12-24 hours. Seek Medical attention IMMEDIATELY if symptoms do not improve! DCHHS officials also urge the public to remember to look before you leave in order to avoid leaving a child in a car. Remember to NEVER leave a child in a closed, parked car. In Texas leaving a child in a car is not only dangerous, it's also illegal. According to Texas law, anyone who leaves a child younger than the age of 7 unsupervised in a motor vehicle faces a Class C misdemeanor.

If the child is hurt, the person could be charged with child endangerment, a felony. DCHHS officials ask that if you see a child left unattended in a parked car, to call 911 immediately and stay with the car until help arrives. Finally DCHHS asks all citizens to follow a few simple precautions and warnings to stay safe in the sweltering, dog days of summer: · If you do not have cooled, air conditioning in your home, you should go to mall, library and other places with air conditioning.

· NEVER leave a child or pet in a closed, parked car.

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· Drink plenty of fluids? avoid drinks containing alcohol, caffeine or sugar.

· Dress for the summer by wearing lightweight, light colored clothing.

· Take cool baths and showers frequently.

· Exercise during evening and early morning hours when the temperature may be lower.

· Encourage children and the elderly to stay in the shade.

· Check frequently on ill or elderly friends, relatives, neighbors who may need help.

· If you have preexisting medical conditions, avoid strenuous and prolonged outdoor activities?

· Listen to the news for heat alerts and public health messages.

· Adjust to the environment. Sudden change in temperature - an early heat wave or travel to a hotter climate - will be stressful to the body. Limit your physical activity until you become accustomed to the heat.

· Check with a doctor about the effects of sun and heat when taking prescription drugs, especially diuretics or antihistamines.