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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Carl Kanefsky, Communications Director
(302) 540-4979, Pager

Date: June 16, 2010


Staying Cool and Hydrated is a Lifesaver

As we move into the heart and heat of the summer, Delawareans are reminded to take precautions to help keep themselves, their loved ones, neighbors, and their pets safe. Heat illness occurs whenever the body cannot compensate for excessive heat. When humidity is high, sweat ceases to evaporate and the body's natural cooling system slows down, in some cases shutting down completely.

Those at risk include the elderly, young children, individuals with obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn and those using prescription drugs or alcohol. It's important to stay in contact with elderly relatives and neighbors to make sure they're dealing safely with the summer heat. Delawareans should heed the following warnings signs and preventive 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:

Residents who do not have access to air conditioning can avoid overheating by seeking out public places which do have air conditioning, such as stores, malls, theatres and libraries. The Division of Public Health also recommends drinking plenty of water to keep hydrated and wearing light colored, loose fitting clothing.

People should also remember that temperatures in cars can climb dangerously high very quickly in the summertime heat. Never leave another person or a pet in a car for an extended period of time. Animals are not able to sweat like humans do. Dogs cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paws. If they have only overheated air to breathe, animals can collapse, suffer brain damage and possibly die of heatstroke. Just 15 minutes can be enough for an animal's body temperature to climb to deadly levels that will damage the nervous and cardiovascular systems, often leaving the animal comatose, dehydrated and at risk of permanent impairment or death.

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.