Heat-Related Illness (July, 2013)

As we enter the month of July, the Division of Developmental Disabilities would like to remind everyone to be aware of the dangers that come with the intense heat of summer weather. Individuals with developmental disabilities are at a higher risk for heat related illness due to a number of factors. Please ensure staff are aware of the seriousness of heat related illness and use precautions to avoid it.

How to protect against heat-related illness

  • Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Stay indoors in air conditioning or in air conditioned public areas.
  • Dress for the heat in cool, light weight clothes and a hat or umbrella for shade.
  • If you must be outdoors, rest often in the shade.
  • Drink water.  Even individuals who are staying indoors should increase their water intake. Pay special attention to individuals who cannot communicate thirst and take measures to increase fluid consumption for all individuals.
  • NEVER LEAVE INDIVIDUALS IN A VEHICLE UNATTENDED. The temperature in a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels within minutes, causing anyone inside serious heat-related illness

Recognizing heat-related illness

  1. Heat exhaustion

    This occurs when the body is having difficulty adequately cooling itself, but the actual body temperature has not yet elevated. Signs and symptoms include:

    • profuse sweating
    • headache
    • dizziness
    • nausea
  2. Heat Stroke

    This is a much more serious condition and occurs after failure of the body's temperature control system to maintain appropriate temperature. The individual will stop sweating and body temperature will elevate to dangerous levels. Symptoms can include:

    • confusion
    • vomiting
    • rapid pulse
    • seizure

Responding to heat-related illness

Remove the individual from the heat and begin cooling measures.  Use wet towels, place the individual in front of a fan, place ice packs over the neck and arms, etc.

Rehydrate with water, offering a glass of water every 15 minutes. If the individual refuses water, has vomiting, seems confused or has any loss of consciousness, call 911 immediately.