BATON ROUGE, La.—This week, much of Louisiana is under a heat advisory. Parts of the state are seeing temperatures in the high 90s with heat indexes over 100 degrees. The heat, coupled with high humidity, can cause potentially deadly heat-related illnesses. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Department of Children and Family Services encourage residents to take simple precautions to ensure their safety in the summer heat:
Since 1989, DCFS reports that in cases investigated as abuse or neglect, 22 children have died of hyperthermia (heat stroke) as a result of being left unattended in a car. Children occasionally climb into vehicles on their own and become trapped. To prevent this, do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle and teach them that a vehicle is not a play area. Additionally, always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children's reach. If a child is missing, check vehicles first, including trunks.
According to Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Takeisha Davis, people suffer from heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to cool themselves properly.
"The body normally cools itself by sweating, which is why it is so important to rehydrate by drinking plenty of fluids. Under some conditions, sweating just isn't enough," Dr. Davis said.
Warning signs of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature; red, hot and dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; and dizziness, nausea, confusion and/or unconsciousness. Any of these can be signs of a life-threatening emergency.
If someone you know is experiencing these symptoms in the heat, try to bring the person's body temperature down immediately by bringing him or her to a shady area and cooling the person's skin rapidly with water. Make sure to monitor the person's body temperature and, above all, do not give him or her alcohol to drink. Seek professional medical attention immediately.
If you see a child left unattended in a vehicle, contact local law enforcement or dial 911. If the child is in distress due to heat, get him or her out as quickly as possible and cool the child rapidly.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook.
Follow DCFS on Twitter @SuzyatLADCFS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LADCFS.