DCHHS Urges Residents to Take Precaution During the Heat

Filed under: Community |

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is reporting the first heat-related death in Dallas County in 2016. The cause of death was confirmed by the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office. For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, DCHHS does not provide additional identifying information.

DCHHS is urging residents to take precaution during the heat.

“Summer heat in North Texas can be dangerous,” said DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson. “Citizens should be mindful of the risks associated with high temperatures and take precautions to avoid potentially life-threatening situations for themselves and their loved ones.”

DCHHS conducts syndromic surveillance with hospital emergency rooms and the county medical examiner to monitor and track cases of heat-related illness and death in Dallas County. Here are the numbers from the last three years:

2013
3 deaths and 348 total heat-related illness cases
2014
0 deaths and 236 total heat-related illness cases
2015
2 deaths and 297 total heat-related illness cases

“Heat deaths are preventable,” said Dr. Christopher Perkins, DCHHS medical director/health authority. “There are actions you can take to decrease your risk of heat-related problems, such as staying in a cool place, decreasing physical activity and staying well-hydrated.”

Health officials ask citizens to follow precautions to stay safe in the heat:

  • Know the first signs of heat-related illness – dizziness, nausea, headaches and muscle cramps. At the first sign, move to a cooler place, rest for a few minutes and slowly drink a cool beverage. Seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY if symptoms do not improve.
  • NEVER leave a child or pet in a closed, parked car.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid drinks containing alcohol, caffeine or sugar.
  • Dress for the heat by wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool baths and showers frequently.
  • Exercise during evening and early morning hours when temperatures are lower.
  • If you have pre-existing medical conditions, avoid strenuous and prolonged outdoor activities.
  • If you do not have cooled air or air-conditioning in your home, you should go to a mall, library and other places with air-conditioning.
  • Encourage children and the elderly to stay in the shade.
  • Check frequently on ill or elderly friends, relatives and neighbors.
  • Listen to the news for heat alerts and public health messages.
  • Adjust to the environment. A sudden change in temperature due to an early heat wave or travel to a hotter climate is stressful to the body. Limit your physical activity until you become accustomed to the heat.
  • Check with a doctor about the effects of sun and heat when taking prescription drugs, especially diuretics or antihistamines.

For more information on heat safety, visit: http://www.dallascounty.org/department/hhs/heatillness.html.