Beat the Heat
For the Antigo Times
From Stephanie Thiede, PHN, Langlade County Health Department
High temperatures and high humidity can pose a risk of heat-related illness and even death.
On average, 675 deaths from extreme heat events occur each year in the US.
Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some are at greater risk than others:
- Infants and children up to four years
- People 65 years of age and older
- People who work or exercise outdoors
- People who have preexisting chronic medical conditions or take certain medication
In Wisconsin, generally when temperatures approach or exceed 90 degrees, the following actions are recommended:
- Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. If unavoidable, drink plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks in air-conditioned or shaded areas. Consider taking a thermometer with you. An oral temperature of 99°F is cause for concern.
- Do not leave anyone—children, disabled individuals, pets—in cars AT ALL. Even for brief periods.
- Make frequent checks on family, friends, neighbors, especially the elderly and ill. If necessary, move them to an air-conditioned environment.
- Make sure pets and livestock have access to cool, clean water and shade. If possible bring them in to air conditioning. Limit exercising your pet during the hottest part of the day. Signs of heat stroke in pets are heavy panting, glazed eyes and excessive thirst.
- To avoid dehydration, drink more than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Don’t drink fluids that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because these actually cause you to lose body fluid. Drink two to four cups of water every hour while outside.
- In temperatures above 90 degrees, fans tend to lose their ability to reduce heat. However, if no alternative exists, instead of having a fan blow hot air in from a window, have the fan blow the hot air outside.
- Cool showers, baths and sponge baths can be used to reduce body temperatures. Also wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Power outages can occur with periods of extreme heat, make sure you have an emergency kit that fills your individual needs. This kit may include food, water, flashlight, medications, pet supplies, diapers, first aid kit, etc.
Know the warning signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and stroke:
- Heat Exhaustion: Heavy sweating, weakness, cold/pale/clammy skin, weak pulse, nausea and vomiting
- What to do: Move to a cooler location. Lie down and loosen clothing. Apply cool wet clothes covering as much of your body as possible. Sip water. If you vomit continuously, seek medical attention immediately
- Heat Stroke: Body temperature above 103 degrees, hot/red/moist skin, rapid and strong pulse, possible unconsciousness
- What to do: Call 911 immediately! Move the person to cooler environment. Reduce person’s body temperature with cool clothes or even cool bath. Do not give fluids.
People who do not have access to air conditioning in their homes are encouraged to seek out air conditioned facilities, such as public buildings, libraries or senior centers, or stay with friend or family who does. Call 211 for information on cooling centers in our area. For all other questions or concerns, call the health department at 715-627-6250 or visit: