Health

Central Iowa experiences prolonged extreme heat event: Take precautions especially when outdoors

July 22, 2021

(Des Moines, IA) – With very hot weather expected this weekend the Polk County Health Department encourages residents to take extra precautions to stay safe. Temperatures and humidity will be rising for the next several days and heat indices may exceed 100 throughout the weekend and again into next week.  

Anyone is at risk for heat-related illnesses including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, especially young children, older adults, individuals with chronic health conditions and anyone spending significant time outdoors. “We look forward to the weekend so we can spend more time outdoors. But, the conditions this weekend could be dangerous,” said Helen Eddy, Director of Polk County Health Department. “Please take extra precautions to stay safe.”

With many outdoor events going on this weekend, individuals need take the following precautions to avoid heat related illnesses:

  • Be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, cold, pale and clammy skin, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, headache or fainting. Symptoms of heat stroke are high body temperature, hot, red, dry skin, fast pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea or confusion.
  • Drink plenty of water. DO NOT wait until you are thirsty to drink. Avoid drinking alcoholic and caffeinated beverages as they dehydrate you.
  • Take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors. Spend at least two hours in air conditioning each day.
  • Try to avoid being outdoors in the hottest portion of the day: 11 AM to 4 PM.

“While those who are exerting themselves outdoors are certainly at an increased risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, periods of prolonged extreme heat like we are expecting this week can quickly raise the temperature to dangerous levels in homes that do not have air conditioning,” said Eddy.

Many public places such as malls, libraries and other public spaces that are air-conditioned and are open to the public as daytime cooling centers.  For a full list of daytime cooling centers that are open, visit the Polk County Health Department’s website at https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health-department/programs-and-services/2021-daytime-cooling-centers/or call 211.

 

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