Pharmacy Outreach: Raise Awareness about Heat Related Illnesses
Temperatures are soaring, and records are set to be broken across the continental United States. Many people are avoiding outdoor excursions while others continue about their daily routine with very little thought to the dangers presented by the extreme temperatures. High temperatures can be especially harmful to individuals already suffering from other health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Fortunately, there is one place these people all must go on a regular basis – their pharmacy!
Extreme heat can lead to a number of problems in individuals. Two of the most common are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Take the time to create an informative flyer to display prominently near the pick-up counter or a brochure to give consumers to raise awareness of heat related illnesses.
Heat exhaustion occurs when an individual loses an excessive amount of water and salt –usually due to sweating. Symptoms include:
- Elevated body temperature
- Excessive sweating
- Increased heart rate
- Shallow breathing
Individuals presenting with symptoms of heat exhaustion should be allowed to rest in a cool area, given cool liquids, and use a cool shower or bath to reduce the effects of the heat.
Heat stroke occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate body temperature. Symptoms include:
- Decreased coordination
- High temperature
- Hot, dry skin or excessive sweating
- Severe headache
Individuals presenting with symptoms of heat stroke should receive immediate medical attention. Until medical attention can be obtained the individual should be moved to a shady and cool area and cooled as rapidly as possible with whatever is available – a cool shower, bath, wet cloths, or water from a water hose.
Prevention techniques are the same for all heat related illnesses. People should be encouraged to avoid prolonged sun exposure and exertion when there are extremely high temperatures or high humidity. If heat exposure cannot be completely avoided individuals should attempt to:
- Avoid synthetic clothing.
- Do not allow yourself to become thirsty.
- Drink increased quantities of water.
- Gradually increase work intensity.
- Monitor the physical condition of yourself and those nearby.
- Schedule most intense work during cooler parts of the day.
- Take a greater number of breaks.
- Take breaks in shaded or cool area.
- Wear breathable clothing.
- Wear light-colored clothing.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
Have you seen higher than normal temperatures and heat related illnesses already this summer? What will you do to make sure your clients are adequately prepared for the next heat wave?