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A heat wave is a prolonged or severe episode of unusually high temperatures sometimes accompanied by high humidity. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are all heat-related illnesses caused by overexposure to heat. Those most susceptible include infants, the elderly, construction and factory workers, as well as persons who find themselves exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods of time.
- Heat Cramps – painful muscle spasms usually occurring in the legs or abdomen; often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
- Heat Exhaustion – signaled by pale or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. If left untreated it can lead to heat stroke.
- Heat Stroke – body systems become overwhelmed by the heat and begin to stop functioning. This is the least common but most severe heat emergency.
During a Heat Wave:
- Stay indoors during the hottest hours.
- Drink plenty of fluids even if not thirsty.
- Eat several small meals or snacks throughout the day.
- Wear light-weight and light-colored clothing.
- Avoid consuming alcohol.
- Avoid salt and salt tablets unless otherwise directed by your doctor.