July is often one of the hottest months out of the year in North Georgia, which means residents who like to enjoy time outdoors need to be aware of symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two of the most common forms of heat-related illnesses, with heat stroke the more serious of the two. Both are experienced as a result of overexposure in hot temperatures without proper precautions.
According to the Center for Disease Control website, symptoms of heat exhaustion include cool or moist skin, heavy sweating and light headedness.
While not as medically serious as heat stroke, proper care is still necessary to treat heat exhaustion. Treatment includes getting a patient into a cooler area, giving them cold beverages to drink as well as cold compresses to apply to their body.
If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include a high body temperature, hot and dry skin and a rapid pulse.
After dialing 911, those assisting a patient experiencing heat stroke should move the person to a cooler place and try to lower their body temperature with cool cloths. The CDC advises NOT to give someone with symptoms of a heat stroke something to drink.
From a local perspective, Hall County Fire Services spokesman Zach Brackett said that personnel have responded to an average number of heat-related illness calls this year and offered advice on avoiding those situations.
As far as prevention of heat-related illnesses, Brackett said the best practice is to hydrate several days in advance of an outing.
“One of our core philosophies with our personnel is to make sure they stay hydrated throughout the day and the days before their shift so the public can do that too,” said Brackett. “Anytime they know they’re going to be out doing some yard work, they need to stay hydrated the days leading up to that day.”
Brackett said another great precaution is to schedule outdoor activities in the morning when the temperatures are cooler and stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
Brackett also offered tips on how to help someone who shows symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
“Number one, get them out of the heat. Get them to a cool place [like a] car with the air conditioning running. Try to actively cool them off…[cool towels] up around the neck or under the armpits, that’ll help cool you off,” said Brackett. “Try to get it before they get to the point that they’re having a heat stroke.”
As the COVID-19 health crisis is continuing through the summer, more people are feeling the need to wear masks as they go about their day-to-day lives. While Brackett said he encourages people to social distance and follow preventative guidelines, only wearing masks when necessary can help prevent wearers from experiencing heat-related illnesses.
1:54 “For instance, when you’re driving alone in your car, take the mask off, get some fresh air,” said Brackett. “There’s no reason to ride around with your mask on if you’re the only one in the vehicle.”
According to The Weather Channel, temperatures in North Georgia are predicted to be in the high 80s to low 90s for the next two weeks. AccessWDUN will provide up-to-date forecasts each day online and on radio FM 102.9 and AM 550.