June 13, 2012

Health Officials Urge Caution When Hot Weather Returns This Weekend

Wisconsin Heat Awareness Day is June 14

MADISON-State health officials are urging people to learn how to prevent dangers associated with extreme heat as forecasters predict another weekend of high temperatures.

"Sustained temperatures above 90 degrees pose a risk of heat-related illness and death, especially when humidity levels exceed 35 percent," said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer. "The risk is highest for older adults and individuals with chronic illnesses, or for individuals taking medications that inhibit perspiration and the body's natural cooling process."

Although most heat-related illnesses involve people who are elderly or have chronic illnesses, children, athletes, and outdoor workers are also at risk.

Individuals, especially children or any household pets, should never be left unattended in cars for any length of time. Even with windows cracked open, temperatures inside a car can rise to life-threatening levels in a matter of minutes.

General heat exhaustion symptoms include fainting, rash, fatigue and nausea. Skin can become clammy and moist or hot and dry. Heat stroke can come on rapidly and may progress to life-threatening illness within minutes. If heat-related symptoms appear, action should be taken immediately to reduce body temperature. This includes taking a cool shower, bath or sponge bath. Wearing wet clothing also has a cooling effect.

When temperatures are above 90 degrees, officials recommend the following actions:

  • To avoid dehydration, make it a point to drink more fluids during hot weather. Rapid weight loss may be a sign of dehydration.
  • Do not plan strenuous activities during the warmest part of the day.
  • Individuals at highest risk should spend the hottest part of the day in a cool, preferably air-conditioned place.
  • Use fans to increase ventilation unless temperatures exceed 90 degrees, at which point fans become ineffective in reducing heat-related illness.
  • Take action to reduce body temperatures if heat-related symptoms appear.
  • Make frequent checks on the status of elderly or ill relatives or neighbors. If necessary, move them to an air-conditioned environment during the hottest part of the day.

For more information on heat-related health concerns, visit: