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DOH Gives New Mexicans Tips To Beat The Heat

DOH Gives New Mexicans Tips To Beat The Heat

Residents Urged To Stay Safe In Extreme Temperatures

The New Mexico Department of Health advises residents to take extra precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. They’re also reminding New Mexicans to never leave children or pets inside an unattended vehicle. Temperatures over the next several days are expected be the hottest days of the year in several parts of New Mexico.

“June is the hottest month of the year in New Mexico, so it’s no coincidence that it’s also historically the peak month for residents suffering heat-related illnesses to end up in emergency rooms across the state,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “The most serious forms of heat-related disease, if untreated, can kill a person or cause permanent damage to their nervous system.”

Anyone regardless of age, sex, or health status may develop heat-related illness if they are engaged in intense outdoor physical activity, or even by being exposed to hot weather without access to shade or air conditioning. Residents at highest risk of heat related illnesses are the elderly, the very young, and people with existing chronic diseases such as heart disease.

People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but that’s not enough when the heat is too much or your exposure lasts too long.

Heat exhaustion can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Its main signs include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, as well as feeling tired, weak and/or dizzy.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and happens when the body loses its ability to sweat. Dehydration and over exposure to the sun can cause heat stroke. The main sign of heat stroke is an elevated body temperature greater than 104 degrees and changes in mental status ranging from personality changes to confusion.

The best defense against heat related illness is prevention. Here are some tips:

  •  Stay cool indoors; do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device
  • Drink more water than usual
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar
  • Replace salt and minerals
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully
  • Pace yourself
  • Monitor people at high risk
  • Never leave children or pets in cars

Children or animals can be seriously injured or die as temperatures rise within just 10 to 30 minutes of being left alone in a car. Do not leave children or pets in the car while running errands, no matter how quick you think it will be. Studies show that the practice of leaving a vehicle window partially open, or cracked, has little effect on decreasing temperature inside.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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