Heat wave - JASE Medical

Record Breaking Heat Wave Sears the Country – And its Not Letting Up Anytime Soon

Summer- a time of long, endless days of warm weather that children across the country look forward to when school lets out. Swimming, hiking, bicycling, and even setting up camp and stargazing in the backyard are the stuff that fond memories are made of.

All these fun activities, however, can pose potential illness or danger, especially when its hot outside.

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Heat wave sweeps the country

Record breaking heat was recorded in Miami, Austin and Phoenix over the past few days. Even Portland Oregon, usually known for its cooler weather broke daily records.  You don’t have to have record breaking weather to suffer overexposure to sun and heat. One recent and very heartbreaking story  out of Vancouver was of a one-year-old child that died from heat stroke in a car while the outdoor temperature was only 70-75 degrees. The inside of the car reached 110 degrees.  According to the National Safety Council on average more than 38 children from the ages of 1-15 die from heatstroke, mostly from being in a hot car. July is the month that most of these deaths occur, according to the website.

That quick trip into the store for a quart of milk could prove dangerous, even fatal to a young child left unattended in a vehicle.

Populations most at risk for heat related illnesses
Heat related illnesses can affect anyone but certain populations are more prone than others. These include:

Age: Infants, young children, and elderly individuals are more susceptible to heat related illnesses. Both children and elderly have a reduced ability to regulate body temperature.

High heat exposure: High temperatures for extended periods, especially during a heat wave, can put anyone at risk for heat related illness.

High humidity: When the humidity is high, the body’s ability to cool down through sweating is reduced, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke.

Chronic health conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, obesity, and diabetes, can reduce the body’s ability to handle heat stress, making individuals more susceptible to heat stroke.

Medications: Some medications can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, leading to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Take precautions if on any medications. The following is a brief list- check your specific medication for more information:

Anticholinergic drugs: These medications block the action of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in various bodily functions, including sweating. By reducing sweating, these drugs can hinder the body’s ability to cool down effectively. Examples include certain antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, and medications for overactive bladder.

Diuretics: Diuretics, commonly known as water pills, increase urine production, which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration impairs the body’s ability to regulate temperature, making it harder to dissipate heat. Some diuretics cause electrolyte imbalances which can further compromise health.

Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers are used to treat various conditions, including high blood pressure and heart conditions. They can reduce the heart rate and limit the body’s response to heat, potentially interfering with temperature regulation.

Psychotropic medications: Certain medications used to treat mental health conditions, such as antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, can affect the body’s heat regulation mechanisms, leading to increased heat sensitivity. This is an often-overlooked class of drugs. Be sure to check with pharmacist or read side effects of these drugs before heading off into the heat.

Antidepressants: Some antidepressants, especially those that affect serotonin levels, can impact the body’s thermoregulatory systems, potentially causing an increased risk of heat-related issues.

Antihypertensive medications: Some medications used to lower blood pressure, such as alpha-blockers, can impact the body’s response to heat and affect blood flow to the skin.

Alcohol and drug use: Alcohol and certain drugs can impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature and increase the risk of heat stroke.

Physical activity:  Physical activity, particularly in hot and humid conditions, can raise the risk of heat stroke, especially if adequate hydration is not maintained. If not acclimated to the heat this can pose a serious health risk.

Lack of acclimatization: Individuals who are not accustomed to hot weather or are not acclimatized to the heat may be more susceptible to heat stroke. This is especially true for those living in or working in air-conditioned buildings.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke- know the signs and what to do

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two distinct heat-related illnesses, with heat stroke being the more severe condition.

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CDC excerpt on heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

Avoid

When the temperature is very high stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress properly and take breaks often. Know who is at high risk for heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Tips to Beat the Heat

  • Drink plenty of water! (I will add that electrolyte drinks such as these can replace lost fluids and prevent electrolyte imbalance
  • Check on friends and neighbors at high risk for heat-related illness
  • Find airconditioned places to cool off (shopping malls and libraries)
  • NEVER leave kids or pets in a closed, parked vehicle
  • If you go outside, remember:
    • A hat
    • Sunscreen (spf 15 or higher)
    • Lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
    • Water
    • Limit time outdoors. Take breaks often
  • Know who is at high risk:
    • Infants
    • Young children
    • Older adults
    • People with chronic medical conditions

Spot

Know the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Heat Stroke

Signs & Symptoms

  • Very high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Confusion
  • Passing out

Heat Exhaustion

Signs & Symptoms

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach or vomiting
  • Fainting

If you see any of these signs, get medical help immediately.

Treat

While waiting for medical attention, you can help someone with heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Heat Stroke

Move the victim to a shady area or indoors. Do not give the person fluids.

Cool the body by:

  • Placing person in a cool (not cold) bath or shower
  • Spraying with a garden hose
  • Sponging with cool water
  • Fanning

Continue efforts to cool the person until help arrives or his or her body temperature falls below 102°F and stays there.

Heat Exhaustion

Get medical attention if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.

Cool the body with:

  • Cool, nonalcoholic beverages
  • Rest
  • A cool (not cold) bath, shower, or sponge bath
  • Moving to an airconditioned room
  • Wearing lightweight clothing

Seek medical help immediately if symptoms are severe or if victim has heat problems or high blood pressure.

Taking just a few precautions will ensure you and your child will have a fun and adventure filled summer.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

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Build Personal Resilience- Don’t Get Caught Off Guard

Extreme weather events are happening across the entire US. And this is only the beginning of summer.

The massive amounts of weather-related events already happening is setting the stage for a severe supply chain disruption. Tornados and hurricanes knocking out infrastructure- warehouses holding medications, food, and basic needs are already feeling the pinch. Along with supply disruption, workers at these warehouse unable to get to their jobs adds to the chaos.  Supplychain24/7, a supply chain solutions company actively seeks and researches solutions to supply chain issues. They are working towards resiliency in the supply chain. They study logistics trends, weather related disruptions, and continue to work towards solutions that help close the gap in disruptions.

Build your own personal resiliency plan. The government isn’t going to save you

Over and over we see how limited our EMS and infrastructure services are when it comes to widespread natural disasters. Basic services, such as restoring the electric grid, sewer and garbage services keeping roads cleared, transporting patients to working hospitals, Answering calls for weather related injuries, rescue operations, and more stress the emergency workers beyond capacity.

These weather-related shortages can be mitigated by implementing a plan- and following through on it. The lives of you and your loved ones depend on a well-executed plan when, not if disaster strikes.

Build your emergency medical kit

Along with first aid supplies, consider all the people you are responsible for medical needs. Does anyone use inhalers for asthma? A clear airway is the highest priority when it comes to survival.  If an asthma exacerbation occurs from wildfire smoke, do you have a nebulizer (Amazon carries inexpensive portable nebulizers) along with extra tubing and masks? Contact your care provider for extra solution for the nebulizer. By the way, fo you have a way to use the nebulizer if the power goes out? A portable generator, solar unit or battery?

Insulin dependent diabetics require not only the insulin but blood testing supplies and glucometer. If you or anyone in your household is insulin dependent, do you have a way to store extra insulin, have extra testing supplies and insulin? A small refrigerator that plugs into the car or outlet on a generator would be a wise investment to store insulin and other temperature sensitive medications.

Do you have an adequate supply of medications? If you weren’t able to get to a pharmacy or clinic for an extended period, say 3 months, would you and your family have enough medication and first aid supplies until the supply chain was restored? If not, check out Jase Daily for a year’s supply of prescription meds. It’s an easy and affordable way to ensure an uninterrupted supply of lifesaving medications in the event of a drug shortage.

How does your stock of over-the-counter drugs and supplies add up?

Along with your medical kit, over the counter drugs and medical supplies can be lifesaving.

  • Check out this book for an easy to follow guide for medical emergencies, along with a medical supply list for grid down scenarios: The Preppers Medical Handbook
  • Bottled water and water filter if water runs out (check out Membrane Solutions for portable water filters)
  • Electrolyte powder or solution
  • Antihistamines (Benadryl or other antihistamine)
  • Antipyretics, anti-inflammatories, pain relievers,
  • GI meds- anti diarrheal stool softeners, laxatives, heartburn meds,
  • Burn cream, eye wash solution, sunburn cream, calamine lotion, aloe gel, ice packs
  • Thermometer- age appropriate
  • Blood pressure cuff if using a digital cuff, make sure you have adequate batteries)
  • Penlight and batteries
  • Bandages, gauze, tape, mole skin for foot sores, tweezers, bandage scissors, otoscope
  • For infants- bulb syringes, thermometer diaper rash cream, fever reducer meds, extra formula, electrolyte replacement (such as Pedialyte)

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

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