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      Don't succumb to heat-related illness

      Temperatures are expected to hit triple digits over the next several days.{} The Alabama Department of Public Health advisesthe public to be alert to the warning signs of heat illnesses.

      Heat-related illnesses occur when the body'stemperature control system is overloaded.{}{} Heat stroke, sometimes called sunstroke, is themost serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable tocontrol its temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweatingmechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may riseto 106 degrees F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause deathor permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.People should drink plenty of water, stay in anair-conditioned room, and keep out of the sun. The public should also check onthe elderly and ensure pets have plenty of water to drink and shade to cooloff.Warning signs of heat stroke vary, but includethe following: {} {} {} {}An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees F) {} {} {} {}Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating) {} {} {} {}Rapid, strong pulse {} {} {} {}Throbbing headache {} {} {} {}Dizziness {} {} {} {}Nausea {} {} {} {}Confusion {} {} {} {}UnconsciousnessFirst aid recommendations are to get the personto a shady area, cool rapidly in a tub of cool water, place in a cool shower,spray with cool water from a garden hose, splash with cool water, or, if thehumidity is low, place in a cool, wet sheet and fan vigorously. Monitor bodytemperature and continue cooling efforts until the person's body temperaturedrops to 101 to 102 degrees F. Follow these preventive measures to avoid heatillnesses: {} {} {} {}Drink more fluids, and avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine. {} {} {} {}When temperatures are extreme, stay indoors, ideally in anair-conditioned place. {} {} {} {}Take a cool shower or bath, and reduce or eliminate strenuous activitiesduring thehottest times of the day. {} {} {} {}Protect yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat, light-colored,loose-fittingclothing and use of a sunscreen of SPF 15 orhigher. {} {} {} {}Never leave pets or people in a parked vehicle. Individuals with heart problems, poorcirculation, diabetes, a previous stroke or obesity are at greater risk ofbecoming sick in hot weather. The risk of heat-related illness may increaseamong people using medications for high blood pressure, nervousness ordepression.Heat illnesses can lead to death. According tothe Alabama Center for Health Statistics, the total numbers of heat-relateddeaths in Alabama in recent years are as follows: 2011 - 8,{} 2010 - 9, 2009 - 3, 2008 - 8, and 2007 - 13. In the heat wave of 1980, there were 125 heat-relateddeaths recorded in the state.