MDHHS: Tips and tricks to stay healthy during heat waves

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging Michigan residents to take steps to protect themselves from risks related to hot weather.

MDHHS routinely reviews emergency department data for heat-related illness. As daily temperatures rise above 80 degrees, ED visits for heat-related illness tend to increase. This is often more likely early in the summer season as people are not yet used to high temperatures and are not taking the necessary precautions.

“Michigan residents can take steps to protect themselves from heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Young children, older adults and those who have medical conditions are at increased risk for heat-related illness, so be sure to check frequently on them and others in your community who may need additional assistance. Limit time in heat, stay hydrated, avoid direct sunlight and find somewhere with air conditioning or take cool showers. Text or call 211 or contact your local health department to locate a cooling center in your area.”

When it is very hot, there is an increased risk of heat-related illness because the body’s temperature rises and cannot be cooled by sweating or the other ways the body cools itself. The most severe heat-related illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If not treated, heat exhaustion can worsen and cause heat stroke or death.

To prevent complications from the heat, residents are encouraged to:

  • Drink more fluids and avoid liquids with large amounts of sugar or alcohol.
  • Limit outdoor activities to when it is coolest in the morning and evening.
  • Spend time indoors in air conditioning.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
  • Wear sunscreen, as sunburn affects a body’s ability to cool down.
  • Check on elderly neighbors and relatives to determine if they need assistance.

For those without access to air conditioning, text or call Michigan 211 or contact your local health department to find out if there is a cooling center nearby. You can also spend some time at an air-conditioned store, shopping mall or other public building – even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help.

In addition to staying hydrated and out of the sun, residents are reminded to never leave children or pets alone in a car even with windows cracked. Temperatures inside a car can easily be double the temperature outside. Because a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult they are more susceptible to heatstroke.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are both forms of heat-related illness. Signs of heat-related illness vary but may include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Tiredness

Heatstroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature and can result in death if not treated promptly. Humidity can make temperatures feel even hotter and further stress the body’s ability to self-regulate. If you suspect someone has heatstroke, call 911 for immediate medical help and try to cool the person down.

For more information about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from heat-related illness, see the MDHHS Heat Awareness and Safety Fact Sheet, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.