High temperature weather poses potential health risk

By Maria Ahmad

Warm temperatures in DeKalb create potential heat-related health hazards.

Those without air conditioning are encouraged to go to local cooling centers, according to the American Red Cross website. A cooling center can be a local school, library, mall or theater.

“Remember to check on family and neighbors who may not have air conditioning, especially those with small children or pets,” said Veronica Vasquez, Communications Manager at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. When a heat advisory is issued, there are certain precautions people should take.

“It means that those who are working or doing activity outside need to take numerous breaks, drink plenty of fluids and, if possible, curb any outdoor activity in favor of being indoors with air conditioning,” said NIU meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste.

Dehydration can happen in the summer heat and is most common among young children, the elderly and animals.

“Stay hydrated, drink fluids, even if you do not feel thirsty,” Vasquez said. “Also, eat smaller meals, but eat more often.”

Sebenste stresses drinking non-alcoholic fluids because alcoholic or carbonated beverages may cause one to become more dehydrated.

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and sun strokes are other heat-related complications.

“Heat cramps are spasms in the leg or abdomen and occur due to a loss of fluids,” Vasquez said. “Heat exhaustion is when the body loses fluid through heavy sweating, maybe with exercising, and symptoms can include headaches or nausea.”

If working out or exercising, choose to do it in an air conditioned facility to avoid any heat cramps or exhaustion.

“Sun strokes can be life threatening and happen when a person’s body temperature control system stops working,” Vasquez said. “It can be characterized by red skin, vomiting and high body temperature. 911 needs to be called immediately.”

The worst of the heat has passed for this week, Sebenste said.

“We should see quite a few days in the upper 80s to around 90 through the 4th of July,” Sebenste said.