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Wimberley Swelters. Staying Healthy and Staying Cool in the Face of Devasting Heat and Drought
Water levels for the Blanco River get lower and lower in the record drought, but sitting in the river can still be a favorite cooling-off activity for those in the know.

August 2001

Wimberley, Texas is suffering through one of the hottest summers in recorded history, with the thermometer hitting triple-digit temperatures every day...sometimes as high as 111 F...so far.

Although seasoned Texans are accustomed to heat in the summer, the last few months Central Texans have also been enduring a drought at the most extreme level and have been daily facing the threat of electricity rationing through rolling blackouts.

For the last few weeks, most people in Wimberley have retreated inside where the air conditioners are challenged with alleviating the worst of the heat. Today, as on too many others this summer, a heat advisory is in effect with these warnings from NOAA:

Heat stroke, heat cramps, or heat exhaustion is likely with prolonged exposure and physical activity.

Schedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water. To reduce risk during outdoor work the occupational safety and health administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency...Call 911.

Although we live in Central Texas, most of us may have been lucky enough to avoid heat stroke, cramps, or heat exhaustion. Click on one of the links below to learn how to identify and treat the dangerous effects of heat on the body:

HEAT CRAMPS
HEAT EXHAUSTION
HEATSTROKE

KEEPING YOUR COOL

A beautiful, sunny day can be a real treat, but if you suspect you may have had a touch too much of that good thing, here are tips for handling heat overload.

1. Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages.
2. Rest.
3. Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
4. Seek an air-conditioned environment.
5. Wear lightweight clothing.

In Wimberley, a favorite way to beat the heat is to head for the water. Due to drought conditions, the usually-reliable Blanco River has dwindled to trickles over a rocky bottom in many places, but sitting in the river to cool off still works. Just make sure you're in the shade and bring plenty of fluids. And, of course, you'll surely recycle any containers, keeping Wimberley beautiful!

HEAT CRAMPS

Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions, mainly affecting the calves, quadriceps and abdominals. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. Your body temperature may be normal.

HEAT EXHAUSTION

With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104 F and you may experience nausea, vomiting, headache, fainting, weakness and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, this can lead to heatstroke. Keep in mind these symptoms may appear after exposure to extreme heat, so remember to monitor symptoms carefully if you feel a little strange after a session outside in the heat.

Symptoms can range in severity from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion to potentially life-threatening heatstroke.

Signs of heat exhaustion often begin suddenly, sometimes after excessive exercise, heavy perspiration, and inadequate fluid or salt intake. Signs and symptoms resemble those of shock and may include:

    Feeling faint or dizzy
    Nausea
    Heavy sweating
    Rapid, weak heartbeat
    Low blood pressure
    Cool, moist, pale skin
    Low-grade fever
    Heat cramps
    Headache
    Fatigue
    Dark-colored urine

If you suspect heat exhaustion:

    Get the person out of the sun and into a shady or air-conditioned location.
    Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly.
    Loosen or remove the person's clothing.
    Have the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine.
    Cool the person by spraying or sponging him or her with cool water and fanning.
    Monitor the person carefully. Heat exhaustion can quickly become heatstroke.

If fever is greater than 102 F, or if fainting, confusion or seizures occur, call 911 or emergency medical help.

HEATSTROKE

Heatstroke is the most severe of the heat-related problems and is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 F. Your skin may be hot, but your body may stop sweating to help cool itself. You may develop confusion and irritability. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death.

Young children, older adults, people who are obese and people born with an impaired ability to sweat are at high risk of heatstroke. Other risk factors include dehydration, alcohol use, cardiovascular disease and certain medications.

What makes heatstroke severe and potentially life-threatening is that the body's normal mechanisms for dealing with heat stress, such as sweating and temperature control, are inadequate. The main sign of heatstroke is a markedly elevated body temperature generally greater than 104 F (40 C) with changes in mental status ranging from personality changes to confusion and coma. Skin may be hot and dry although if heatstroke is caused by exertion, the skin may be moist.

Other signs and symptoms may include:

    Rapid heartbeat
    Rapid and shallow breathing
    Elevated or lowered blood pressure
    Cessation of sweating
    Irritability, confusion or unconsciousness
    Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
    Headache
    Nausea
    Fainting, which may be the first sign in older adults

If you suspect heatstroke:

    Move the person out of the sun and into a shady or air-conditioned space.
    Call 911 or emergency medical help.
    Cool the person by covering him or her with damp sheets or by spraying with cool water. Direct air onto the person with a fan or newspaper.
    Have the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine, if he or she is able.




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