Heat Wave Surges in Florida and Georgia

By: Florida Public Information and Georgia Public Health Release Email
By: Florida Public Information and Georgia Public Health Release Email

Tallahassee, Florida- June 29, 2012

Tropical Storm Debby may have moved offshore, but health risks will increase in the coming days due to residual floodwaters and extreme heat in affected areas. The heat index in Florida may approach 100 degrees over the weekend, making heat exhaustion and dehydration a major concern. State health officials urge Floridians to stay healthy and safe, especially as temperatures rise and when cleaning up around their homes.
“Heat exhaustion and dehydration can quickly develop after exposure to the high heat forecast through the weekend and into next week. The storm has passed, but Florida will continue to feel many after-effects of the storm,” said State Surgeon General John Armstrong. “Exposure to mold, mosquitoes and water-borne illness are just some of the health risks and hazards that people may experience. It is important for everyone to be diligent and take the following preventive steps and tips to keep themselves and their family healthy and safe during this time.”

Heat exhaustion is a more mild form of heat-related illness that can develop after exposure to high temperatures and inadequate replacement of fluids. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are the elderly, people with high blood pressure and people working in a hot environment.

Warning signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. In addition, skin may be cool and moist, pulse rate fast and weak, and breathing fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. If symptoms become more severe or last longer than one hour, seek medical attention immediately.

If you suspect you may have heat exhaustion, take the following cooling measures:
· Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages
Rest in an air-conditioned environment
Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath
Wear lightweight clothing
Prevent sun burn by wearing sunscreen of 30 SPF.

To avoid becoming dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids, especially water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Persons who have medical conditions such as kidney and heart disease, who require a fluid restricted diet, or who have problems with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids. Children should also keep hydrated by increasing amounts of drinking fluids. Young children and babies may need more water than normal daily intake to stay hydrated.

Signs of dehydration include thirst, weakness, nausea, muscle cramps, feeling dizzy and light headed, decreased urine levels and/or urine that has a strong odor or is darker in color than normal, tiredness, sluggishness, irritability and headaches. Prevent dehydration by drinking fluids throughout the day. To avoid becoming dehydrated stay out of the direct sun, wear light colored loose fitting clothing, limit physical activity, and use fans when available.

Food safety: Preventing food-borne diseases
Individuals should not eat any food that may have come into contact with contaminated water from floods or tidal surges.
Commercially prepared cans of food should not be eaten if there is a bulging or opening on the can or the screw caps, soda pop bottle tops or twist-caps.
Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels and then disinfect the cans in a bleach solution. Use ¼ cup of bleach in one gallon of water; re-label the cans including expiration date and type of food. Assume that home-canned food is unsafe.
Infants should preferably be breast fed or fed only pre-mixed canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with untreated water, use boiled water instead.
Sanitation and Hygiene: Preventing waterborne illness
Flood water may contain fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural and industrial waste and septic tanks. If you have open cuts or sores exposed to the floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and disinfected or boiled water.
Do not allow children to play in floodwater or with toys that have been in floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. Use ¼ cup of bleach in one gallon of water to disinfect toys and other items.
Post Flood Clean-up:
Clean up debris to avoid injury and contamination.
Chainsaws should only be operated in safe conditions and by people that are experienced in proper use.
Wear shoes to avoid injury to the feet from glass, nails or other sharp objects.

A fact sheet for information on additional health risks and tips on cleaning up mold and mildew, handling well water and sewer issues, and mosquito prevention is available at www.FloridaDisaster.org. For more information, visit http://www.doh.state.fl.us.

For additional information on response to and recovery from Tropical Storm Debby, call the Florida Emergency Information Line at 1-800-342-3557. The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 – November 30. To GET A PLAN! visit www.FloridaDisaster.org. For the latest information on the 2012 Hurricane Season, follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsert and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FloridaSERT.


Atlanta, Georgia-June 29, 2012

Extreme Heat Event in Georgia Raises Health Concerns
Heat Exhaustion, Hot Cars and Overexposure to Sun
Pose Significant Threats

With dangerously high temperatures forecasted throughout the state for the next several days, The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is cautioning residents to avoid strenuous outdoor activity and/or prolonged exposure to the sun.

“More people die from heat than from any other weather-related event or natural disaster,” said DPH Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. “We’re sounding the alarm now and we’re sounding it loudly.”

Poor air quality in north Georgia will make the outdoor environment even more hazardous, especially for small children and the elderly, as well as those who work outdoors or those suffering from certain medical conditions. DPH encourages residents to observe important safety guidelines throughout the period of extreme heat:

Stay indoors, in air-conditioned buildings and avoid direct sunlight
Never leave a child or person in a parked vehicle – not even for a moment
Limit outdoor activity when the sun is most dangerous from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Bathe in cool water to reduce body temperature
Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol or liquids containing caffeine or sugar
Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing
Check on at-risk friends, family and neighbors at least twice a day

DPH supports Ready Georgia, a statewide emergency preparedness campaign created in partnership with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security. Visit Ready Georgia’s website (http://www.ready.ga.gov/) to create an online plan and profile.

And download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app (http://www.ready.ga.gov/mobileapp) for geo-located alerts and preparedness information.

Residents should contact their local/county health department or emergency management agency for additional information.

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