With a number of people across the region succumbing to the heat South West Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Chris Buck is reiterating some of the basics we all need to follow for the next few days of extreme heat.
• Have a plan
• Stay hydrated
• Stay out of the sun wherever possible
• Keep cool
• Look after others.
“Heat-related illnesses have the potential to be life-threatening and may include heat stroke. Symptoms may vary from patient to patient, but it is important to be aware of the various illnesses and the warning signs.”
“A person suffering from heat exhaustion may present with symptoms that include muscle cramps, heavy sweating, paleness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and fainting.”
Dr Buck says Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness that presents with symptoms similar to heat exhaustion, but which may also include an extremely high body temperature; red, hot, dry skin, but possibly some clamminess; a rapid pulse; headache and confusion.
‘‘To assist someone affected by the heat, cool the person down urgently with a cool shower, bath or sponge, or even spray them with cool water from a hose. Loosen their clothing and have them rest in a cool place.”
“Provide cool non-alcoholic fluids, but only if you are confident they can swallow. Avoid drinks high in sugar and caffeine. If they become unconscious, place them on their side and follow the Emergency Medical Dispatcher’s instructions as they provide vital first aid advice until paramedics arrive.”
Dr Buck said with temperatures this high we shouldn’t be waiting to feel thirsty to drink
“Drink regularly throughout the day. Urine colour is a good guide to hydration – it should be clear to light straw-colour, not dark or gold.’’
Dr Buck says there are some exceptions to the drink plenty of fluids rule.
“There are some patients in the South West with fluid restrictions in relation to their conditions. If you have a specific condition and have been advised to restrict your fluid intake, of course, follow your doctor’s orders.’’
“Check in on family, friends and neighbours who may be more prone to heat-related illness to make sure they are okay. If you’re working outside be sure to take precautions to ensure you keep cool.”
“And remember, never, ever; leave children, or animals, or anyone, unattended in cars in the heat. Temperatures can rise very rapidly and can be fatal in a surprisingly short period of time.’’