MASON COUNTY — Ahhh…Summer. The time of lazy days and outside fun is upon us and so is the heat.
During the next following weeks when the temperatures are in the 90’s, the Mason County Health Department will be offering cold water to anyone who stops in at the health department at 216 Fifth Street. The health department will also provide cold water at the Mason City Building and New Haven City Building and residents can stop in there to pick up a cool bottle of water while you are out and about.
Caution must be taken when enjoying the various outdoor activities available. One deadly problem to prevent is heat stroke. Heat stroke is a condition where the body’s cooling system fails and the core body temperature rises uncontrollably. The exact cause is unknown, but it acts quickly and is often fatal. Therefore, preventing heat stroke from occurring is of utmost importance.
The human body cools itself by sweating. In some circumstances, you can produce up to a half gallon of sweat each hour. It is essential that this water loss is replaced by frequently drinking fluids or dehydration can occur. A dehydrated person is unable to sweat efficiently, resulting in an increased risk of heat stroke. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink, because you could already be in the early stages of dehydration. In addition, water replacement should be limited to nonalcoholic and low sugar varieties to avoid even higher water loss.
Try to limit outdoor activities to morning and evening and take frequent rest periods. If you must be out in the afternoon, wear loose, lightweight clothing and stick to shady areas. Avoid heavy physical activity as well. On particularly humid days, limit your outdoor activities as well. High humidity in the air can prevent sweat from evaporating from the body, resulting in inefficient cooling.
Be aware of the signs of heat stroke. These include symptoms such as dry skin that is red and hot, high body temperature, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, dry swollen tongue, headache, lethargy, stupor, and unconsciousness. If symptoms occur, immediately get the person to a shaded area to lie down, and encourage them to sip cool fluids. Call 911 for emergency assistance. Remove as much clothing as possible to expose skin to the air. Attempt to cool the victim by flushing the skin with cool water, applying cool cloths, and/or applying ice packs to the head, neck, underarms, and groin, until help arrives. Avoid actions that would cause shivering, because this raises internal temperature even more.
Finally, be aware of those that are higher risk of heat stroke. Infants, young children, elderly, mentally ill, and persons who are physically unwell are more susceptible to heat injuries. If you have friends or family members that fall into this category, check on them frequently to ensure they are doing okay. Following the above guidelines can help us all have a safe and healthy summer.
Information for this article prepared by the staff of the Mason County Health Department.