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Protect Your Clients from Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke!
By Michelle Adams

Summer heat can be more than uncomfortable, it can be downright miserable and a threat to the health of you and your clients or loved ones.  Older adults and children are particularly susceptible to ailments like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  It's imperative that everyone practices sun safety to keep their leisure time truly relaxing and enjoyable.

Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion occurs when a person cannot sweat enough to cool their body.  This is usually the result of not drinking enough fluids during hot weather.  It generally develops when a person is playing, working, or exercising outside in extreme heat.  Symptoms include the following:

  • Dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache, and vomiting
  • Blurry vision
  • Body temperature rising to 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Sweaty skin
  • Feeling hot and thirsty
  • Difficulty speaking
  • The elderly person have may cool and moist skin, fast and shallow breathing, as well as weak pulse rate.

A person suffering from heat exhaustion must move to a cool place and drink plenty of water to avoid a more severe heat-related condition – heat stroke.

Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is the result of untreated heat exhaustion.  Symptoms include:

  • Sweating stops
  • Unawareness of thirst and heat
  • Body temperature rising rapidly to above 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Possible loss of consciousness or seizure

Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that must be treated quickly by a trained professional.  Until help arrives, cool the person down by placing ice on the neck, armpits, and groin.  If the person is awake and able to swallow, have them drink a small glass of water every 15 minutes or until help arrives.

Tips for Staying Cool

  • Offer your client plenty of healthy, cool beverages throughout the day, and make sure they understand why it's so important that they stay hydrated. 
  • Skip the caffeine and soda (or pop), and choose water instead.
  • Ensure that your client is dressed in lightweight clothing.
  • Serve watermelon or frozen treats as healthy and refreshing snacks.

Put moist towels on their neck, wrist, or back if they begin to feel too hot.

For more information, contact Jamie Bayer, Harmony's Director of Community Development at (724) 765-0897 or jbayer@homewithharmony.com. To learn more about Harmony Home Health, visit the website at www.homewithharmony.com/

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