Pre­vent­ing HEAT­STROKE

Com­mon sense pre­cau­tions to pro­tect your­self this sum­mer


Most peo­ple know there are risks to overex­ert­ing your­self in the heat, though few re­al­ize the po­ten­tial dan­gers of ex­treme over­heat­ing. But while heat stroke – the most se­ri­ous on a spec­trum of heat-re­lated ill­nesses – is po­ten­tially fa­tal, it is also pre­ventable.

“There’s a range of heat-re­lated dis­eases, from heat rash to heat ex­haus­tion, marked by symp­toms like cramp­ing, light­head­ed­ness and nau­sea,” Dr. Randy Tar­ta­coff, co-di­rec­tor of the emer­gency depart­ment at Tea­neck’s Holy Name Med­i­cal Cen­ter, ex­plains. “But with those ill­nesses you’re still sweat­ing, which is our body’s mech­a­nism of cool­ing down. With heat stroke, we’ve lost our abil­ity to cool down. We stop sweat­ing, so we’re un­able to get rid of our heat, and the body will shut down.”

Tar­ta­coff feels one key to pre­ven­tion is rec­og­niz­ing symp­toms of milder heat-re­lated ill­nesses which, if left un­treated, may de­velop into heat­stroke.

“If you’re out­side and you’re hot, and you’re light­headed or start cramp­ing, those are red flags and you need to start cool­ing down,” he says, adding that get­ting out of the sun and into a cool en­vi­ron­ment is step one.

“You have to get out of the heat into some­where air-con­di­tioned,” he says, not­ing that a ve­hi­cle with air-con­di­tion­ing on full blast is a quick op­tion.

Dr. Ge­orge Becker, emer­gency depart­ment di­rec­tor at The Val­ley Hospi­tal in Ridge­wood, ad­vises tak­ing ad­van­tage of cool en­vi­ron­ments through­out sum­mer days, stay­ing in­doors dur­ing the hottest parts of the day, and tak­ing breaks from pro­longed heat. “If you can get into a mall or an air-con­di­tioned place for even a few hours a day, those breaks are im­por­tant to re­duc­ing your chances of heat­stroke,” he says.

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