Henrico County Health Department Reminds Residents that Extreme Heat Requires Protective Actions

July 2, 2013

(Henrico County, Va.)– With the daytime heat index expected to reach or exceed 100˚F over the next couple of days, it becomes even more important that people follow recommendations to protect themselves from the extreme heat.

According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, in 2012 there were 21 heat-related deaths in Virginia. One of the most important precautions people should take is to schedule or reschedule activities and outdoor work during the coolest parts of the day. In the summer, sunlight exposure is greatest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Here are additional steps you can take to protect yourself against heat-related illnesses:

  • Keep cool in an air-conditioned area. Take a cool shower or a bath. Consider a trip to the mall or a local library or visit a friend with air conditioning. Spending at least two hours per day in air conditioning significantly reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses. When temperatures reach the upper 90s or above, a fan may not prevent heat-related illness.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (2-4 glasses of cool fluids each hour.) To replace salt and minerals lost from sweating, drink fruit juice or a sports beverage during exercise or when you have to work outside. However, talk to your doctor first if you’re on a fluid-restricted diet or medications, or on a low-salt diet.
  • Avoid sunburn and wear light clothing. Sunburn limits your body’s ability to keep itself cool and causes loss of body fluids. Use sunscreen with a high SPF. Lighter-weight clothing that is loose fitting and light colored is more comfortable during extreme temperatures. Use a hat to keep the head cool.
  • Give your body a break as the heat wave can be stressful on your body. Limit physical activity until your body adjusts to the heat.
  • Never leave children or pets in cars. Temperatures inside a car can reach more than 150 degrees quickly, resulting in heat stroke and death.
  • Use the ―buddy system‖ if you’re working outside. If you’re working outside and suffer a heat-related illness, you could become confused or could lose consciousness. Therefore, make sure someone else knows of your plans.
  • Several Henrico County recreation facilities are available as air-conditioned facilities open to the public. Contact each site for hours of operation: Belmont Recreation Center (804.262.4924); Confederate Hills Recreation Center (804.737.2859); Dorey Recreation Center (804.795.2334); Deep Run Recreation Center – (804.290.0305); Eastern Henrico Recreation Center (804.225.2056). Henrico libraries also are available — call 290-9000 or log on to www.henricolibrary.org for information.
  • Henrico’s Department of Social Services will offer a Cooling Assistance Program from June 17th to August 15th. There is a recorded message about the Energy Assistance Program at (804) 501-4099. For additional information call (804) 501-4003.
  • For more information about heat-related illnesses, visit the Virginia Department of Health’s website at www.vdh.virginia.gov.
Condition Symptoms First Aid
Sunburn Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches
  • Take a shower using soap to remove oils that may block pores, preventing the body from cooling naturally.
  • Apply dry, sterile dressings to any blisters, and get medical attention.
Heat Cramps Painful spasms, usually in leg and abdominal muscles; heavy sweating
  • Get the victim to a cooler location.
  • Lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles to relieve spasms.
  • Give sips of up to a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. (Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol.)
  • Discontinue liquids, if victim is nauseated.
Heat Exhaustion Heavy sweating but skin may be cool, pale, or flushed. Weak pulse. Normal body temperature is possible, but temperature will likely rise. Fainting or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and headaches are possible.
  • Get victim to lie down in a cool place.
  • Loosen or remove clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloths.
  • Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place.
  • Give sips of water if victim is conscious.
  • Be sure water is consumed slowly.
  • Give half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.
  • Discontinue water if victim is nauseated.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.
Heat Stroke

Severe medical emergency

High body temperature (105+); hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid shallow breathing. Victim will probably not sweat unless victim was sweating from recent strenuous activity. Possible unconsciousness.
  • Call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services, or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
  • Move victim to a cooler environment.
  • Removing clothing
  • Try a cool bath, sponging, or wet sheet to reduce body temperature.
  • Watch for breathing problems.
  • Use extreme caution.
  • Use fans and air conditioners.

If you have questions about the information above or about where you can go to beat the heat, please contact the Henrico County Health Department at 804.501.4522 or 804.501.7250. Further Resources: