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Safety Tip: Protect your health in the heat

  • By Minerva Baumann
  • mbauma46@nmsu.edu
  • Jun 21, 2022
Two students by water station
student walking on campus in sunshine

Temperatures in our region spiking above 100 degrees over the last few weeks are a cause for concern. High temperatures kill hundreds of people every year. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn and prescription drug and alcohol use all can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather. 

But heat-related deaths and illness are preventable. New Mexico State University’s Emergency Planning Committee wants to share some information and precautions we all can take to prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

 Signs and Symptoms of Heat Illness

  • Heat Exhaustion symptoms include headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting; weakness and moist skin; irritability or confusion and an upset stomach
  • Heat Stroke symptoms include dry, hot skin with no sweating; mental confusion or loss of consciousness and seizures or convulsions. Heat stroke is an emergency and 911 should be called if anyone is experiencing these symptoms.

 Steps to prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries, and death during hot weather:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as you can.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. NMSU has 67 hydration stations around campus to refill your water bottles. 
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully.
    • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
    • Pace yourself.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Never leave children or pets in cars.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.

When you must be outdoors in hot weather, take these extra steps to stay cool and healthy. 

  • Cut down on exercise and other hard tasks. 
  • Drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids every hour. 
  • Rest often in shady areas. 
  • Wear light clothing 
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen – SPF 15 or higher.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat on should be moved to a cool and shaded location and call 911 to be checked out.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control website for more tips.