NH DHHS Cautions People Against Heat-Related Illness

Concord, NH – With the high temperatures in the State the next couple of days and into the summer, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reminds people to take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion.

“Even though we may know what steps to take to prevent heat-related illnesses,” said Nicholas Toumpas, Commissioner of DHHS, “they can come on quickly and we may not recognize the symptoms. We want everyone to enjoy all that New Hampshire has to offer, especially in the summer, but safely.”

When the body is unable to cool itself sufficiently by sweating, the body temperature rises and people begin to experience symptoms indicating distress. Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and/or fatigue are symptoms of heat exhaustion, which generally occurs when people exercise or work in hot, humid conditions and body fluids are lost. If the patient is not treated, with cool beverages, seeking air conditioning, rest, and removing heavy clothing, heat stroke can result.

The symptoms of heat stroke are red skin that is hot to the touch; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. The temperature may rise dramatically and the patient’s skin may feel dry.

If someone is experiencing heat stroke, they should be moved to a cool place and be cooled down with water if possible, and emergency medical help should be called immediately because heat stroke can be life threatening.

“Children and seniors are more at risk of heat-related illness but anyone can suffer from them under the right circumstances,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “There are, however, simple, common-sense precautions to take, including remaining in an air conditioned environment whenever possible, which is the number one protective measure, drinking plenty of fluids, but avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and large amounts of sugar, wearing light clothing, and limiting outdoor activity.”

For more information on heat-related illnesses, visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov  or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov