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First aid

Updated 17 February 2014

Don't overheat in high temperatures

Eemergency medical services personnel to attend to patients who have suffered dehydration, hyperthermia, heatstroke or heat exhaustion during the hot summer months.

According to Dr Nontobeko Sonjica, an emergency medical practitioner at Netcare St Anne’s Hospital, it is not unusual for emergency medical services personnel to attend to patients who have suffered dehydration, hyperthermia, heatstroke or heat exhaustion during the hot summer months.    

Dr Anchen Laubscher, Medical Director of Netcare and Netcare 911, explains that heatstroke occurs when the human body’s core temperature increases beyond 40 degrees Celsius. It can be fatal if not treated properly and promptly, she warns. Heatstroke can cause an individual to slip into a coma and suffer organ failure.  

  1. Try to avoid any strenuous physical activity in the heat or in hot, humid conditions.
  2. Avoid exposure to the sun in the middle of the day, when UV intensity is at its greatest.
  3. Make sure that you stay hydrated by drinking sufficient fluids such as water and sports drinks. However, do not overdo your drinking, as it is also possible to over-hydrate. You should not feel bloated after drinking fluids. Drink small amounts at regular intervals.
  4. Avoid drinks that may dehydrate you further such as alcohol, fizzy colas, tea and coffee.
  5. Wear wrap-around UV protective sunglasses and a wide-brimmed sun hat.
  6. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of sun protection factor (SPF) 15+ or more, liberally on areas of the body not protected by clothing. Reapply frequently.
  7. Take care to ensure that babies and children are kept cool.
  8. Avoid exposure to the sun during pregnancy.
  9. Avoid excessive exposure to the sun whilst in swimming or engaging in other water related activities.
  10. Check that medication taken will not affect your sensitivity to heat.

 “Should you plan your activities with care and pay due respect to the sun, you could enjoy a summer without healthcare problems related to excessive heat,” concludes Dr Koekemoer.

(Press release, January 2013)

Read more:

Coping with heat emergencies and hypothermia

 

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