With temperatures near the 100° mark predicted for parts of the state this week, the Tennessee Department of Health is reminding residents and visitors to “respect the sun’s might” by protecting themselves from excessive heat and intensive sunlight damage.
“When temperatures get as high as they are expected to in the upcoming days, we all need to look out for one another and make sure no one becomes a victim to the heat,” said John Benitez, MD, medical director of the TDH Emergency Preparedness Office. “Not protecting yourself can lead to heat exhaustion or the more serious condition of heat stroke. Heat stroke can damage the brain and other organs, and can be fatal. It can affect people of all ages, so no one should believe he or she is immune to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”
“Some ambulance calls can be avoided if more people will respect the sun’s might and take a few simple precautions to protect themselves from summer heat,” said Donna Tidwell, Director of the TDH Office of Emergency Medical Services. “We encourage people to seek shade or shelter during the brightest part of the day and to drink cool water when thirsty. Caffeinated drinks, including some sodas, tea and coffee should be limited or avoided.”
The symptoms for heat exhaustion and heat stroke are similar and may include dizziness, light-headedness, headache and fatigue. Heat stroke symptoms may include rapid, shallow breathing and rapid heart rate, seizures and unconsciousness. If heat stroke is suspected, medical attention should be sought promptly; emergency rooms are prepared to provide the level of care that may be necessary to save a life or prevent long-term organ damage.
“If you are feeling light-headed or weak, don’t attempt to drive yourself to a hospital or other clinical setting,” Benitez said. “Either have a friend, family member or co-worker take you or call 911.”
To learn more about heat-related illness, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html
Summer sunlight, with its powerful UVA and UVB rays, can also damage skin and eyes. The Tennessee Department of Health recommends the following protection measures:
• use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor,SPF, rating of 30 or higher and applying it as recommended;
• slip on a hat to protect the face, head, ears and neck;
• be aware of time outside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest;
• wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent protection against UVA and UVB rays.
To see more information about sun safety, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.