Heat Wave Danger: A Factor in 3 Chicago Deaths
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect - July 22, 2013
Danger to Elderly People
According to a staff report by the Chicago Tribune, the autopsy of a west suburban woman revealed that heat contributed to hear death, bringing the death count to three in which the recent heat was a factor. Two women died earlier this week and heat stress was a contributing factor. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved and affected by this tragedy.
Read the full article on the heat wave.
With the heat wave we have been experiencing in Illinois, Chicago in particular, it is important to stay hydrated and keep cool. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, elderly people (age 65 years and older), infants, children, and people with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat stress. The number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death is air-conditioning. If you do not have access to air-conditioning in your home there are number of locations that you can spend your time in to stay cool:
- Shopping malls
- Public libraries
- Public health sponsored heat-relief shelters
People undergo heat-related deaths and illness when their bodies are unable to properly compensate for the increase in heat and cool themselves. Our bodies normally cool off by sweating, but in some conditions this cooling mechanism is not enough. When this happens, the body’s temperature will rise rapidly and the high body temperature can cause brain and other vital organ damage.
When it is hot and humidity levels are high, sweat does not evaporate as quickly. This prevents our bodies from releasing heat efficiently. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, alcohol use and other conditions are risk factors for heat-stress.
Read more from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention on extreme heat and prevention.
It is important during heat waves to get in contact with your local public health department. The Cook County Department of Public Health says excessive heat will continue for the next few days. Their recommendations and precautionary measures are as follows:
- Drink 1 to 1 ½ quarts of fluid daily to prevent dehydration
- Water, fruit juices and juice drinks are the best choices
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine because they dehydrate the body
- Wear light colored, lightweight clothing. If you must go outside during the hottest part of the day, wear a hat
- While outdoors, rest frequently in a shady area
- Check frequently on ill family members, the elderly and neighbors
- Never leave children, the elderly or pets in a parked car, not even for a few minutes. Brain damage or death can occur from the rapid rise of temperature inside the vehicle
Please visit the website for the Cook County Department of Public Health for more information, such as cooling center locations.