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August 14, 2022
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18 July 2022

Extreme Heat Can Cause Heat-Related Illness

Extreme Heat Can Cause Heat-Related Illness

Jackson County will be dealing with numerous days of extreme heat. Jackson County Public Health wants you to know that heat-related illnesses could also be on the rise. Learn how to spot and give first aid for heat-related illness and how to prevent it.

“Many people can be at risk for heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion during long periods of extreme heat,” says Dr. O’Keefe, Health Officer for Jackson County Public Health. “Everyone should know how to prevent, spot, and give first aid for heat-related illnesses.”

Anyone can suffer a heat-related illness. However, some are at higher risk. Young children, those age 65 and older, with chronic health conditions, or who are overweight carry a higher risk, as do those who are athletes, outdoor workers, and people who are experiencing homelessness. Not all homes have air conditioning, and some people may be unable to afford to have air conditioning units installed. Please pay special attention to these groups to make sure they take steps to prevent heat-related illness.

Heat stroke is a serious illness. The body’s temperature can rise to 104 degrees or more. Signs of illness include red, hot skin, a rapid and strong pulse, and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke can come on quickly; serious signs of illness can occur within minutes. If someone has heatstroke, move the person to a cooler area right away, and call 911. While waiting for help, lower the body temperature using a cool bath or wet towels. Unlike heat exhaustion, victims of heat stroke are NOT to drink fluids.

Heat exhaustion is a milder heat-related illness. It develops after prolonged exposure to high temperatures, and a person becomes dehydrated. Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, extreme weakness, cold, pale and clammy skin, fast or weak pulse, or nausea. Victims may also vomit or faint. Treat heat exhaustion with rest in a cool, shaded area. Give the person many sips of liquids and apply cool, wet cloths. Call a health care provider if the person is on a low-sodium diet or has health problems.

You can prevent heat-related illnesses. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, low sugar fluids. Alcohol can keep your body from cooling itself properly and should be avoided. Some medications have similar effects. Call your health care provider if you have questions about the heat and your medication. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes. Take it easy when outdoors. Athletes and those who work outdoors should take frequent short breaks. Schedule physical activity during the morning or evening when it is cooler. You can also relocate activities to air-conditioned facilities. The Oregon School Activities Association provides a heat index calculator, policies, and practice model for schools to keep athletes safe, and the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health provides requirements and guidance for employers on heat stress.

  • Stay in air-conditioned areas. If your home is not air-conditioned, consider a visit to a public library or shopping center. You can also stay with family or friends who have air conditioning. Keep children in air-conditioned areas too. NEVER leave kids or animals in a car, even with the windows cracked. Take them with you.
  • Cooling shelters are open in Medford and Ashland. 211 Information can be a resource for finding cooling shelter locations.
  • Check on elderly relatives or neighbors at least twice a day. Make sure they have a cool place to live in during extreme heat.
  • Pets can get heat-related illnesses too. Make sure you keep them cool and that they have plenty of water.