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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / The Dog Days/  Editorial List

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The Dog Days

“I don’t know anything about global warming, but  it sure is hot around here”, a friend of mine living in Los Angeles recently stated. In an unprecedented weather related switcharoo, we here in South Florida are sitting through almost unbroken string of rain soaked days, while our friends across the nation melt in a brutal cross country summer heat. This is of utmost concern to caregivers as we care for our loved ones health and well-being as well as our own.

According to the Red Cross (

Heat-related illness usually comes in stages. The signal of the first stage is heat cramps in muscles. These cramps can be very painful. If you are caring for a person who has heat cramps, have him or her stop activity and rest. If the person is fully awake and alert, have him or her drink small amounts of cool water or a commercial sports drink. Gently stretch the cramped muscle and hold the stretch for about 20 seconds, then gently massage the muscle. Repeat these steps if necessary. If the victim has no other signals of heat-related illness, the person may resume activity after the cramps stop.

The signals of the next, more serious stage of a heat-related illness (often called heat exhaustion) include--

  • Cool, moist, pale skin (the skin may be red right after physical activity).

  • Headache.

  • Dizziness and weakness or exhaustion.

  • Nausea.

  • The skin may or may not feel hot.

The signals of the late stage of a heat-related illness (often called heat stroke) include--

  • Vomiting.

  • Decreased alertness level or complete loss of consciousness.

  • High body temperature (sometimes as high as 105oF).

  • Skin may still be moist or the victim may stop sweating and the skin may be red, hot and dry.

  • Rapid, weak pulse.

  • Rapid, shallow breathing.

This late stage of a heat-related illness is life threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Wishing you coolness.


Gary Barg

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