The Iowa Department of Public Health is urging those in areas with flooding to take special precautions to protect their health in the extreme heat. Department medical director, Patricia Quinlisk says people can get so intent on working that they don’t pay attention to the heat and their health.
Quinlisk says people in the Ames or Colfax area for example, may be cleaning up and doing it without air conditioning or without access to clean water to drink. “All of those things could combine to make a very hazardous situation for people and we just people to want to make sure that they take it easy and that they take care of themselves first,” Quinlisk explains. Dr. Quinlisk says the advice to dealing with the heat is the same if you’re cleaning up after a flood, or walking the grounds of the state fair — stay hydrated.
Quinlisk says drink lots of water, and it varies how much you should drink depending on how much you sweat, but she has this guideline. “You need to keep your urine light yellow, if your urine starts getting dark it means you are pretty seriously dehydrated,” Quinlisk says. She says at that point you need to stop, get someplace cool and get your body rehydrated. Quinlisk says there are other things you can do nutritionally to help.
“If you are sweating a lot and losing a lot of the salt, you need to be aware of that too, because that can cause some trouble too,” Quinlisk says, “and the best ways to replace that is basically to eat a good diet, especially things like bananas and fruit are very good.” She says you can also drink a sports drink to rehydrate if you are sweating allot.
It used to be thought that going in and out of the air conditioning into the heat was stressful, but Quinlisk says that’s not the case.
“Not really, no, the thing that puts the most stress on your body is truly the dehydration,” she says. Trying to work without enough fluid in your body creates the most stress.
Quinlisk says anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, but some people are at greater risk including: people age 65 or older; infants and young children; overweight individuals; people who are physically ill, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as those for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.