Stay Healthy as Temperatures Climb

July 5, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
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Despite the reputation of hurricanes, tornadoes and cold waves, oppressive heat is the number one killer in the United States when it comes to weather.

According to the National Weather Service, heat causes more deaths than hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning and floods combined.

When a person's body absorbs more heath than it can handle - and let dissipate - hyperthermia can occur.

People in parked vehicles are especially at risk for suffering from hyperthermia. Parked cars in the sun are particular danger zones for children and pets.

Signs of hyperthermia include:

* Heat cramps - The tightening of muscles in your torso or limbs, which can be painful and are usually related to exercise or hard work.

* Heat edema - Swelling in your ankles or feet.

* Heat syncope - Sudden dizziness that occurs when you are active in heat.

* Heat exhaustion - Signs can include thirst, dizziness, weakness, lack of coordination, and nausea.

If you experience any of these symptoms, try resting in a cool place and drinking fluids. Always seek medical attention when necessary.

The most dangerous symptom of hyperthermia is heat stroke, which can cause death. Signs of heat stroke include fainting, an elevated body temperature (over 104 F), changes in behavior, dry, flushed skin and change in pulse, or not sweating in spite of the heat.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of heat stroke, get medical help right away.

All information about hyperthermia comes from the National Institute for Health.

To decrease your risk of experiencing a heat-related illness, consider taking some of these steps:

* Drink plenty of fluids including water and juice. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.

* Create ventilation in your home by opening windows at night and opening windows on opposite sides of the building.

* Cover windows that are in direct sunlight and especially during the hottest part of the day

* Pay attention to weather reports.

* Dress for the weather - natural materials and lighter colored clothing are good choices.

Remember to check for the latest on the weather in your region.

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