Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Date: July 20, 2013
MEDICAL EXAMINER CONFIRMS STATE'S FIRST HEAT-RELATED DEATH OF THE YEAR
NEW CASTLE (July 20, 2013) - A 55-year-old New Castle County man is Delaware's first heat-related death of the year after he was
found unresponsive Wednesday in an outdoor setting.
The Medical Examiner's Office ruled the man's death an accident, finding that he had an underlying medical condition. Heat exposure
contributed to the man's death, the Medical Examiner's Office said.
Delaware's Division of Public Health said the man's death is a reminder of the danger that excessive temperatures and humidity can
have on everyone, but especially those who are medically vulnerable. It's important for Delawareans to have an emergency plan for a
heat wave, just as they do for a hurricane or a snowstorm.
"There are many scenarios you need to anticipate," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health. "Do you have a
plan if you lose power? Where can you go to cool down and be safe if you have no air-conditioning or lose power? Do you know how to
safely cool yourself or a loved one down if they are suffering from excess heat? Do you know when to call 911?"
Here are more tips we all can take to prevent heat illness:
- Do not leave a child alone in a parked car, even for a minute. Call 911 if you see a child left unattended in a vehicle.
- Check in on seniors and individuals with disabilities to make sure they are OK.
- Carry water with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks containing sugar, alcohol and
caffeine, which dehydrate the body. (Check with a doctor before increasing fluid intake if you have epilepsy, heart, kidney or
liver disease, or if you are on a fluid-restrictive diet. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.)
- Stay indoors on the lowest floor possible to avoid the heat.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Wear a hat or use an umbrella. Use sunscreen. Sunburn slows the skin's ability to
cool itself, and has been linked to skin cancer.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes. A cold shower immediately after coming in from hot temperatures can lead to hypothermia,
particularly for the elderly and children. Heed the following heat danger warnings signs and take suggested actions: Heat cramps
occur in the muscles of the limbs or abdomen occurring during or after physical activity in high heat. Sweating results in loss of
fluids and salts that cause muscle cramps. Address heat cramps by resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water. Heat
exhaustion is more severe, occurring when a person is overheated along with reduced or unbalanced intake of fluids.
Symptoms may include:
- clammy skin
- nausea and/or vomiting
- hyperventilation (rapid breathing)
Take these steps for heat exhaustion:
- Move person indoors or into shade
- Loosen or remove clothing
- Encourage the person to eat and drink
- Get person to a cool shower or bath
- Call your doctor for further advice Heatstroke occurs when the body can no longer cool itself. Prompt medical treatment is
required. Overdressing and time spent in hot vehicles can lead to heatstroke. Symptoms may include:
- flushed, hot, dry skin with no sweating
- high body temperature (above 103 degrees F, orally)
- severe, throbbing headache
- weakness, dizziness, or confusion
- sluggishness or fatigue
- decreased responsiveness
- loss of consciousness
Take these steps for heat stroke:
- Call 911.
- Get the person indoors or into shade.
- Get person to a cool shower or bath.
- Give fluids.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health
and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.