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There is nothing more beautiful than watching the sun peek
up over the Superstition Mountains in the morning and nothing can rival the
brilliant colors of an Arizona sunset.
From summer poppies to towering saguaros, there is so much
beauty to be experienced in the desert. Unfortunately, as with most things in
life, we have to take the bad with the good.
As much as we love winters here, summers in the desert
can be atrocious. Not only is the summer heat uncomfortable, for some it can be
deadly. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious medical conditions that if
not treated, can have grave consequences.
Heat exhaustion is one type of heat related illness which
is accompanied by headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and weakness. Heat
exhaustion, left untreated, can lead to Heat Stroke which can be fatal. Heat
Stroke occurs when the body’s core temperature reaches 105 degrees or higher.
The extreme temperature can lead to complications in the central nervous
system. Heat stroke occurs because the body is no longer able to regulate
Symptoms of heat stroke include fainting, headache
(throbbing felt in the temples), nausea, vomiting, cessation of sweating,
dizziness, redness of skin around the face and neck (may appear as a rash)
Often heatstroke patients will experience increased or rapid heartbeat,
respiratory complications, confusion, slurred speech, delirium, and seizures.
If you or someone you know experiences a heat related
emergency call 911 immediately. While waiting for medics to arrive you should
try to get the patient out of the sun or remove them from the source of the
heat (hot car or house). You can gently spray the patient down with cool water
or apply a wet cloth or ice pack to the patient’s armpits and/or groin area. If
the patient is able to drink give them cool water. Obviously if the patient is
unconscious or is vomiting hold off on trying to get them to drink.
Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. Here are some tips to avoid a trip to the emergency room this summer.
• Drink water. Your body needs to stay hydrated in order
to produce sweat. Sweat helps regulate your temperature. Avoid alcohol. • Avoid
sunburns. Sunburns make it more difficult for your body to expel heat. Wear
sunscreen, carry an umbrella or wear a hat. Protect yourself from the sun.
• Spend the hot part of the day somewhere cool. If you
don’t have an air conditioning system, find someone that does. The library
malls, or grocery stores are nice cool places hang out during the summer.
• Be careful with medications. The heat can create
complication with certain prescription drugs. Consult your physician or
pharmacist if you’re unsure.
• Avoid hot cars. Temperatures can reach an excess of 145
degrees in a parked car here in the summer. Never leave a child in parked car. Not even for a minute!!!
• If you have the option, avoid strenuous activity during
the hottest part of the day. Exercise in the morning or early evening.
• If you must work in hot weather take extra precautions.
Take regular and frequent breaks from the heat and drink plenty of water.
• If you are new the area, allow your body to acclimate
to the heat before jumping into a regular exercise routine. Be aware of the
temperature swings. It’s not uncommon for the temperature to go from 78 degrees
at 7 a.m. to 105 degrees by noon.
Finally, children and the elderly are the most
susceptible to heat related illness. As good citizens it’s up to us to watch
out for the most vulnerable among us. Often time’s people don’t want to burden
others with their problems so we may not know that our neighbors are without a
functional air conditioner or cooler.
Even though your neighbor may not ask for help, he or she
probably won’t turn it down if help is offered. If you have an elderly
neighbor, check on them. Ask about their living situation. Find out if they
have family in the area and try to get emergency contact information. If you
have permission or you are invited, enter their residence so you can assess the
living conditions inside.
Watch for any changes in your neighbor’s routine. For
example, if you notice that your neighbor usually open their blinds first thing
in the morning and then suddenly does not, there may be a problem. If your
neighbor normally takes a morning walk but skips a day check in on them. Be
vigilant. Simply taking the time to look in on the people around us could save