The heat is on! Measures to prevent heat emergencies
Dr. Cai Glushak, International Medical Director and Chief Medical Officer AXA Partners
The heat is here. In recent years, climate change has caused many temperate zones to experience progressive record high temperatures and prolonged heat waves. This season in the northern hemisphere, the heat season has already started, well before the traditional warmest months of July and August.
In addition to the inherent threat of excessive temperatures, many people are still working from home where they may not have air conditioning. Exposure is a more constant concern.
For both residents and vacationers, being prepared for excessive heat is essential for health maintenance and to avoid potentially disastrous heat conditions.
Who is at risk?
Extreme heat conditions can be dangerous for everyone, including young and fit adults. We have all heard of healthy athletes falling prey to extreme heat during marathons and other physical activities.
Of course, it is the extremes of age – the elderly and the very young who are most vulnerable. Elderly people are often isolated and have underlying health conditions putting them at increased risk of dehydration and decompensation. They may have altered ability to sense excessive heat – not having the same drive to consume liquids. Infants and children have greater body surface area, disposing them to become dehydrated and absorb heat rays more easily. They are far more vulnerable to sunburn as a result.
Several levels of heat illness
Burns - Summer is wildfire season and many residents and travelers may become victims of fires with little warning.
Sunburn - In addition to severe thermal burns to skin, excessive sun exposure can result in heat illness itself. Victims of sunburn may require both burn care as well as underlying heat illness treatment.
Heat illness – This is a continuum of illness in which a person’s underlying temperature control is progressively deranged and fluid losses occur:
How to avoid a heat disaster
Heat related illness and injury are 100% avoidable. Many simple measures will help avoid tragic circumstances.
Take personal measures
Kids are especially vulnerable to heat illness because of their high body surface area leading to higher exposure. They are inclined to play in the hot weather without noticing the effects of the heat.
Take all the measures noted above and especially:
If all of the above easy to apply measures are applied, there should be no victims of heat emergencies.
Enjoy the summer and your holidays!