Health Officials Say Take Steps to Stay Cool in Hot Weather

Aug 16, 2012

Health officials are urging people to take steps to stay cool during the hot weather. Forecasters have issued a heat advisory for the next few days. Temperatures are expected to peak in the low-90s in Western Washington. Ruby de Luna reports Young children, elderly people, and those with chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable.

Health officials say the heat could cause health problems because the human body is not able to cool off fast enough.

The heat spell also causes smog build up. That could trigger medical problems for more than 500,000 people in Washington who have asthma and other respiratory conditions.

“About 9 percent of them are adults, but anywhere between 7-10 percent are children in school," says State Health Officer for Washington Department of Health Dr. Maxine Hayes. "And then we have 16 percent of our seniors have heart disease. So that’s a lot of people who could get into trouble.”

Dr. Hayes says extreme heat doesn’t happen often in the region so it’s easy to forget the signs of heat exhaustion.

“Dizziness, you could have headaches, muscle cramps and nausea," Hayes says. "So these individuals should seek medical attention immediately if after a few minutes of rest and drinking a cool beverage slowly you don’t feel better.”

Hayes says avoid drinks that are sugary, or ones that have caffeine or alcohol -- they’re dehydrating. And if possible, try to stay cool in air conditioned places.

Health officials also suggest checking on elderly neighbors and relatives to make sure they’re taking steps to stay cool, too.

Copyright 2012 KUOW