Whether you’re taking a walk or sunbathing this summer, heat-related illnesses are a threat.
The most common are heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
There is a difference between the two.
“Heat exhaustion usually occurs when it’s over 90 degrees and it’s the preempt to heat stroke,” said Samela Perez, public information officer with San Benito County Public Health Services. Anything over 104 degrees is a heat stroke.
Perez listed symptoms of heat exhaustion, which include sweating, irritability, headaches and nausea. An information packet provided by Perez warns, “If you don’t act on these symptoms and seek help, a heat stroke will follow which can be potentially life threatening.”
Everybody is vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, however Perez said older adults, children and sick or overweight individuals are at greatest risk.
Said Hollister Fire Department Battalion Chief Charlie Bedolla: “There’s a lot of heat exhaustion that comes in, however we’re lucky enough that we haven’t had too many with heat stroke or even farther than that. We’re on a heightened level during the high heat times.”
Despite high temperatures in the summer months, there are ways to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“Find air conditioning, avoid strenuous activities, watch for heat illnesses, wear light clothing, check with family members and neighbors to make sure that they’re safe, and drink plenty of fluids,” Perez said.
To treat heat exhaustion and heat stroke, “Take off excess layers and change out of any clingy sweaty clothes,” the packet advises. “If you’re outside take cover under shade immediately. Apply a cold water bottle or the water itself to your pulse points, such as behind your neck and knees, under your arms, or near the groin. If you’re near home or a park building with bathrooms grab a cold wet towel or compress and do the same.”
If you or anyone else is suffering from the symptoms of heat exhaustion, take the steps described above. If they don’t bring relief, head immediately to the emergency room.