Beat the Heat

When the area is experiencing severe heat, the Henrico County Public Health Department advises residents to be aware of the signs of heat-related illness and to take steps to protect themselves.Individuals especially at risk for heat-related illness include small children, seniors and people with chronic medical conditions who are not in an air-conditioned environment; however, anyone can be affected by severe heat.

  • Early signs of heat-related illness can include cramping, fatigue, dizziness and fainting. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are medical emergencies requiring immediate attention call 911.
  • Drink two-to-four glasses of cool fluids each hour; if working outside or exercising, drink fruit juice or sports beverages.
  • If possible, conduct outdoor activities before noon or at night. Limit physical activity and rest frequently. Avoid sunburn. Wear a hat and light, loose-fitting clothing. Use the buddy system if working outside.
  • Never leave children or pets in vehicles with closed windows, even momentarily. Temperatures quickly can reach 150 degrees, resulting in heat stroke and death.
  • Keep cool indoors. Spending at least two hours per day in air conditioning significantly reduces the number of heat-related illnesses; be aware that a fan may not prevent illness when temperatures reach the upper 90s. Seek shelter from the heat in air-conditioned areas such indoor malls and public libraries.
  • Several Henrico County recreation facilities are available as air-conditioned facilities open to the public. Contact each site for hours of operation: Belmont Recreation Center 262-4924; Confederate Hills Recreation Center – 737-2859; Dorey Recreation Center – 795-2334 and Deep Run Recreation Center – 290-0305. Henrico libraries also are available call 290-9000 or log on to www.henricolibrary.org for information.
  • Henrico’s Department of Social Services will offer a Cooling Assistance Program from June 15th to August 15th. There is a recorded message about the Energy Assistance Program at (804) 501-4099. For additional information call (804) 501-4003.

Condition

Symptoms

First Aid

Sunburn Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches
  • Take a shower using soap to remove oils that may block pores, preventing the body from cooling naturally.
  • Apply dry, sterile dressings to any blisters, and get medical attention.
Heat Cramps Painful spasms, usually in leg and abdominal muscles; heavy sweating
  • Get the victim to a cooler location.
  • Lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles to relieve spasms.
  • Give sips of up to a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. (Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol.)
  • Discontinue liquids, if victim is nauseated.
Heat Exhaustion Heavy sweating but skin may be cool, pale, or flushed. Weak pulse. Normal body temperature is possible, but temperature will likely rise. Fainting or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and headaches are possible.
  • Get victim to lie down in a cool place.
  • Loosen or remove clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet clothes.
  • Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place.
  • Give sips of water if victim is conscious.
  • Be sure water is consumed slowly.
  • Give half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.
  • Discontinue water if victim is nauseated.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.
Heat Stroke
( a severe medical emergency)
High body temperature (105 ); hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid shallow breathing. Victim will probably not sweat unless victim was sweating from recent strenuous activity. Possible unconsciousness.
  • Call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services, or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
  • Move victim to a cooler environment.
  • Removing clothing
  • Try a cool bath, sponging, or wet sheet to reduce body temperature.
  • Watch for breathing problems.
  • Use extreme caution.
  • Use fans and air conditioners.

If you have questions about the information below or about where you can go to beat the heat, please contact the Henrico County Health Department at (804) 501-4522 or (804) 501-7250.

William Nelson, MD, Acting Director
Henrico Health District
Kevin
Pannell,
Emergency Planner
Henrico Health District

Further Resources:
CDC Extreme Heat- http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.asp
CDC / NIOSH Safety and Health Topic: Heat Stress http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/
EPA Excessive Heat Events Guidebook – http://www.epa.gov/hiri/about/pdf/EHEguide_final.pdf
FEMA Extreme Heat - http://www.ready.gov/heat