Learn more about heat-related illness and how to stay cool and well in hot weather.
Your best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Staying cool and making simple changes in your fluid intake (non-alcoholic, uncaffeinated beverages), avoiding strenous activities, and clothing during hot weather can help you remain safe and healthy.
Stay Cool Locations (Cooling Centers)
Please check with your local municipality to find out if they are opening temporary cooling centers on hot days.
Heat stroke is a serious and life-threatening condition that claims many lives nationwide each year. Symptoms include hot, red, dry skin; shallow breathing; a rapid, weak pulse; and confusion. Anyone suffering from heat stroke needs to receive emergency medical treatment immediately. Call 911 if you suspect heat stroke and immediately cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency help to arrive.
“Heat stroke and dehydration can take you by surprise,” said Sherlita Amler, MD, Westchester County commissioner of health. “The elderly, young children and those with high blood pressure, heart disease, or lung conditions need to be especially careful to avoid heat-related illnesses. High humidity and some medications can also increase a person’s risk for heat stroke.”
While less dangerous than heat stroke, heat exhaustion also poses concerns. Seniors, children up to age four, people who are overweight or who have high blood pressure and those who work in hot environments are most at risk. Signs include headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and exhaustion, as well as cool, moist, pale or flushed skin. People suffering from heat exhaustion should be moved out of the sun and have cool, wet cloths applied to their skin.
Health Department recommendations to prevent heat-related illnesses:
Heat-related illness and deaths are preventable if you take the appropriate steps. It's important to recognize the symptoms and understand how to prevent them.
Also, don't forget to apply sunscreen. Just a few serious sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancer later in life. Learn how to protect yourself.
Elevated heat and humidity can also lead to unhealthy ozone levels. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation forecasts daily ozone conditions on its Web site for the New York Metropolitan area, which includes Westchester County. Air quality updates are also provided daily on the New York State Air Quality Hotline on (800) 535-1345.
General Care for Heat Emergencies:
For heat cramps or heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. If the person is fully awake and alert, give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or wet sheets. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.
For heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local EMS number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. If you have ice packs or cold packs, wrap them in a cloth and place them on each of the victim's wrists and ankles, in the armpits and on the neck to cool the large blood vessels. (Do not use rubbing alcohol because it closes the skin's pores and prevents heat loss.) Watch for signals of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.
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