July 17, 2014 8:01 pm

Heat-related illness: how to stay safe this summer

Watch above: summer sun brings risk of heat stroke, exhaustion

SASKATOON – Summer has been here for a while now but we’re finally starting to feel our first stretch of heat. It’s all the more reason, say health officials, to take precautions when going outdoors in order to avoid heat-related illness including heat stroke.

Geoffery Coupal says he’s been able to avoid it despite working outside as a brick layer 10 hours a day.

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“It’s been really hot, you just deal with it, it’s not that bad you just drink lots of water,” said Coupal.

Health officials say the temperature doesn’t even have to be that high for people to experience heat-related illness but there are populations more at risk.

“Babies, elderly, pregnant women and people who are on certain medications, certain medications can predispose you to having an increased core body temperature,” said Dr. Shovita Padhi, deputy medical health officer with the Saskatoon Health Region.

What can start off as cramps or fatigue can progress into heat exhaustion where your core body temperature actually starts rising.

“You start having a faster heart rate, you feel even worse, very lethargic,” said Padhi.

Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can then lead to something even more severe known as  heat stroke. The most serious form of heat injury, considered a medical emergency.

“That’s when your core body temperature reaches over 40 degrees Celsius, you are no longer sweating and you can actually have some mental status changes, so you become confused or dizzy. If someone is experiencing those symptoms they are advised to call 911 immediately or if you see someone experience those symptoms call 9-1-1,” explained Padhi.

Any delays in seeking medical attention in this case can have dire consequences.

“That can actually result in death so you would actually get hypothermia and you’re body will just stop functioning,” said Padhi.

To beat the heat, health officials say go somewhere where there’s air conditioning even if it means going to the mall or library for a few hours.

The public is also reminded that fans don’t actually prevent heat-related illness.

“For a person that has a fan blown it will feel very comfortable but actually what it’s doing is circulating hot air so if you are in that situation and you do have a fan at home you want to make sure a window is open and that the fan is located near the window so that way you can bring in some of the breeze as well,” said Padhi.

Don’t exercise in the heat and stay hydrated.

“Drink lots and lots of water, cap the amount of alcohol and caffeine or at least match that amount with water and watch out for people who are at higher risk,” urged Padhi.

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