Published on August 31, 2022

Heat-Related Illness

Summer is almost over, but the heat is still here. We continue to spend time at the beach; do things outdoors, including outdoor summer sports. Year-round our paseos are filled with people outdoors running, riding bikes, or walking their dog. Some choose to go over to Towsley Canyon for a hike. Whatever the case may be, it is important to ensure you are monitoring for heat-related illness.

Heat-related illness comes in different forms, all from prolonged periods in direct sunlight and heat. Some people, such as children, are more susceptible to heat-related illness than others. Some illnesses we see are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Often these illnesses occur in workplaces where workers spend most of their time outdoors where sun and heat exposure is unavoidable. Construction workers, road workers, landscapers, and even some healthcare workers doing outdoor COVID-related treatment of patients, are at risk for this. Whatever the situation, it is important that you monitor not just yourself, but those around you for signs and symptoms and act quickly to prevent further complications.

What to watch out for:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fainting
  • Increased or decreased sweating (salt marks)
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Dizziness/weakness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urination/dark colored urine

If you observe any of the symptoms listed above, it is important to move the person to a cool, shaded area and begin cool-down efforts immediately. Give cool water to drink, remove excess clothing and apply ice to the neck, in the underarms and in groin areas. Also, get the person to the nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Department to prevent their condition from worsening. If help is unavailable, call 911.

With everything, prevention is the best medicine. Keep watch on weather conditions before heading outside and avoid doing so during peak heat hours (per L.A. County guidelines peak heat hours are usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.). If you spend time outdoors for work, take frequent shaded rest breaks and drink lots of water. Know that per OSHA guidelines, your employer is to facilitate these things for you and your wellbeing while at work.

So as you continue to spend time outside and have fun in the sun, make sure to keep watch and take all precautions possible to prevent heat-related illness for yourself and for others. Stay cool, Santa Clarita!

Written by Angie Luna, RN.