Protect Yourself from Heat-Related Illnesses
- June 16, 2022
With the extremely hot temperatures and high humidity predicted for this weekend, Brookings Health System’s emergency department encourages area residents to protect themselves from sun and heat exposure.
“With this heat wave, we want to encourage folks to take the necessary steps to avoid heat-related illnesses such as severe sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” said Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. John Jerstad. “Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks. Limit outdoor activities and stay inside cool, indoor spaces as much as possible. If you must be outside, wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Avoid being out between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and frequently apply sunscreen with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection.”
Sunburn is a radiation burn on the skin that worsens with more exposure to UV rays. While mild sunburn can be treated at home, severe and blistered sunburn requires medical treatment from a clinic, urgent care or other provider. Seek care if you experience:
- Extensive blistering or pain
- Sunburn over a large area of skin
- Severe swelling
- Signs of infection, such as pain, pus or red streaks leading away from an open blister
Seek emergency medical care if you are sunburned and experience a temperature of 103 - 104°F or higher, confusion, passing out, or dehydration.
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature and decreased urine output. If a person experiences heat exhaustion:
- Move them to a cool place.
- Loosen their clothing.
- Place cool, wet cloths on their body.
- Have them sip water.
Seek medical help from a clinic, urgent care or other provider right away if vomiting occurs, confusion develops or symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It can cause permanent disability or death and requires immediate emergency medical treatment. It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, is unable to sweat, and thus, is unable to cool down. Symptoms include:
- A temperature of 103 -104°F or higher
- Hot, red, dry or damp skin
- Fast, strong pulse
- Passing out
If a person experiences heat stroke, call 911 right away. While waiting for emergency medical services, move the person to a cooler place. Help lower their body temperature quickly by either giving a cold water or ice bath, wetting the skin, placing cold, wet cloths on the skin or soaking clothing in cold water. Circulate air around them to speed cooling.
Medical help is available for heat-related illnesses. For mild cases, visit your primary care provider or urgent care clinic. In severe cases, visit the emergency department or call 911 if necessary.
About Brookings Health System
Brookings Health System, located in Brookings, South Dakota, includes a 49-bed hospital, the 79-bed The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home, Brookhaven Estates senior living apartments, Yorkshire Eye Clinic & Optical, and medical clinics in Arlington, White and Volga, South Dakota. It is a non-profit, city-owned facility that offers the community a full range of inpatient, outpatient, emergency and extended care services. Brookings Hospital provides local access to doctors in Brookings and offers robotic da Vinci surgery and Mako robotic-arm assisted procedures, making it one of the premier rural community hospitals in South Dakota. For more information about the services offered at Brookings Health System, please call (605) 696-9000 or visit us on the Web at brookingshealth.org.