N.C. Dept. of Health offers tips to avoid heat-related illnesses on Memorial Day weekend

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With sweltering temperatures expected statewide this Memorial Day weekend, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is sharing advice on how to protect yourself from heat-related illnesses.

State Health Director and DHHS Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Tilson, M.D., MPH urges people spending time outdoors for work or recreation to protect themselves from the sun and to drink plenty of fluids to minimize the risk of heat-related illness. High temperatures, along with high humidity levels can be dangerous, she said.

Symptoms of heat-related illness include muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, fainting, headaches, nausea and vomiting. Heat-related illness is preventable with proper precautions. However, every summer there are about 3,000 heat-related illness emergency department visits. Children, older individuals, outdoor workers and those with chronic health conditions are most vulnerable.

To reduce risk of heat-related illness: 

Increase fluid intake.

Take frequent breaks in cool or air-conditioned places if spending extended time outside.

Reduce normal activity levels.

Speak with your physician about how to stay safe if you take medicines that make you more vulnerable to heat, such as drugs for high blood pressure, migraines, allergies, muscle spasms, mental illness and tranquilizers.

Check on neighbors, and if working outdoors, check on your co-workers.

Never leave children or pets unattended in vehicles, especially during warm or hot weather, as temperature levels inside a car can reach a lethal level in a few minutes.

High heat days may also be poor air quality days, which can pose an additional threat to those living with chronic health conditions, older adults and children. Air quality information may be found: https://xapps.ncdenr.org/aq/ForecastCenter.

For more information on how to prevent heat-related health issues and to learn about heat-related illness in North Carolina, visithttp://publichealth.nc.gov/chronicdiseaseandinjury/heat.htm.

Individuals and families experiencing a heating or cooling crisis are also encouraged to check with their county department of social services about the availability of and their eligibility for Crisis Intervention Program funds.

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