Baton Rouge—Louisiana is experiencing record-breaking high temperatures. 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, 21 children have died of hyperthermia (heat stroke) as a result of being left unattended in a car. Last year alone, DCFS investigated cases involving six children resulting in three deaths and three children with serious or permanent injuries including brain damage, blindness, kidney failure and second degree burns.
According to State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry, 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. Guidry 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.
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.