1:06pm

Wed June 8, 2011
Science/Health

Heat Dangerous to Young and Old

After cool temperatures and near-record rainfall in April, Kentuckians must now deal with scant rainfall and near-record heat. Health officials across the Commonwealth are warning of the potential risks of heat stroke and exhaustion. Madison County Health Department spokeswoman Christie Green says the elderly, especially those seniors with chronic diseases, are vulnerable.

“These chronic diseases make it harder for a person’s body to handle the high temperatures, especially when the heat index rises with the humidity. The high humidity and the high heat can worsen symptoms of diabetes, or of heart disease, for example or asthma,”said Green.

To avoid heat-related health problems, Green urges people to wear light clothing, drink plenty of water, and delay strenuous outdoor activity until the cooler hours of the day.

Every year since 2004, a child has died in Kentucky while trapped in a hot vehicle. Continuing high temperatures in Kentucky increase the chance of such a tragedy striking again.  Green says children are especially vulnerable.

“If I were to be left in a car, in a hot temperature, I would get hot and I would sweat.  But my body is bigger and more mature and my body is able take steps to regulate my internal temperature. And what creates these dangers for the small children and infants is that their body is not yet capable of regulating their internal temperature,” said Green.

And when a child’s temperature rises rapidly, illness and death can follow.  As a way to remember a child is in the car, Green suggests leaving house keys or a billfold or purse next to the car seat.