The heat is on in southwest Georgia.
The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories for most of Florida and south Georgia. Earlier this week, the heat index forecast was near 108 degrees.
With the soaring summer temperatures, it is important to stay safe and not fall victim to the various illnesses that are caused by the heat.
Dr. Dale Wing, family medicine physician at Archbold Primary Care, has provided warning signs and ways to prepare for the summer heat. He advised on what a person should do in the event of a heatstroke.
“If you think someone might have heatstroke, call emergency medical personnel immediately,” said Wing. “While you are waiting for medical assistance, take the person into an air-conditioned building or a cool, shady place.”
The person’s unnecessary clothing should be removed to help cool him or her down. Fanning air over the person while wetting the skin with water is also advised.
Wing said, “You can also apply ice packs to the person’s armpits, groin, neck and back. These areas contain a lot of blood vessels close to the surface of the skin. Cooling them with ice packs can help the person cool down.”
While outside and a person believes they are becoming overheated, they should get out of the heat quickly, according to Wing.
“Rest in a building that has air conditioning. If you can’t get inside, find a cool, shady place and drink plenty of water or other fluids. Do not drink alcohol or caffienated drinks such as soda,” he said.
Alcohol and caffeinated drinks can make heat exhaustion worse. A cool shower or bath, or just applying cool water to the skin and taking off any tight or unnecessary clothing is advised.
If the person does not feel better within 30 minutes, a doctor should be contacted.
Wing said, “If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can progress to heatstroke.”
The warning signs of a heat stroke are:
• Severe headache
• Dizziness and feeling light-headed
• A flushed or red appearance to the skin
• Lack of sweating
• Muscle weakness or cramps
• Fast heartbeat
• Fast breathing
• Feeling confused, anxious or disoriented
For many people, being out in the heat is part of their job and unavoidable. If required to be outside, take the following precautions advised by Wing:
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat or using an umbrella.
• Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more.
• Drink plenty of water before starting an outdoor activity, while drinking extra water throughout the day (Keep in mind that heat-related illnesses are not only caused by high temperatures and a loss of fluids, but also a lack of salt in the body. Some sports drinks can help replenish the salt in the body lost through sweating.).
• Drink fewer beverages that contain caffeine such as tea, coffee and soda or alcohol.
• Schedule vigorous outdoor activities for cooler times of the day—before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
• During an outdoor activity, take frequent breaks. Drink water or other fluids every 15 to 20 minutes, even if you do not feel thirsty. If you have clear, pale urine, you are probably drinking enough fluids. Dark-colored urine is an indication of dehydration.
With chronic medical problems, a doctor should be consulted about how to deal with the heat, along with medicines and the proper amount of extra fluids.
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.