The Maine Center for Disease Control has tips for staying safe and avoiding illness during this week's heat and humidity.

We're having a heat wave and, for many Mainers, it's more challenging than the winter chill. Most people have a way to warm up in the colder temperatures, but not everyone has an air conditioner at home, or works in an air conditioned office or store. So here are a few tips to staying cool and recognizing when you're getting too hot.

Beating the Heat:

  • Drink lots of fluids - This means water, not alcohol, and not sugary drinks. It's important to keep our bodies hydrated, to replace all the water we're losing through sweating.
  • Stay out of the sun - Shade is better, and air conditioned shade is best. If you don't have a/c, consider spending the day at the library, a movie theater, or a cooling center. Keep the shades pulled on the sunny side of your house and open on the shady side.
  • Take it easy - Don't over exert yourself in very warm temperatures. a trip to the gym and a treadmill is better than walking or jogging outside, when it gets very hot. If you have to work outside, take frequent breaks and drink lots of water. And wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Protect the vulnerable - Keep an eye out for people who may be more at risk for having problems in the sun. Check on elderly or shut-in neighbors, to make sure they have an air conditioner and that it's working properly. Infants and young children are also at risk, so limit their time outside, as well.

When to Be Concerned:

  • Dehydration - This happens when the body has lost too much water and salt. Symptoms include extreme thirst, very dry mouth and skin, extreme tiredness, little or no urination, fast heartbeat, fast breathing, dizziness, or confusion. When this happens, start drinking lots of water, juice, or sports drinks, and lie down until your head clears. If symptoms don't get better, seek medical attention.
  • Heat Exhaustion - Symptoms include heavy sweating, fainting, vomiting, cold-pale-clammy skin, dizziness, headache, nausea, and weakness. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, get them to a cool place where they can lie down. Use cool cloths on them until they feel well enough for a cool shower. Monitor them closely and, if they aren't getting better, get medical help immediately, because heat exhaustion can quickly become heat stroke.
  • Heat Stroke - Symptoms of heat stroke include hot, dry, red skin; lack of sweating; rapid pulse; high body temperature (103 F or higher); headache; rapid and shallow breathing; loss of alertness; confusion; and unconsciousness or coma. If someone is exhibiting these symptoms, call 911. While waiting for an ambulance, you can do things like wrapping them in a cool, wet sheet and directing fans on their body. Ice can also be placed on their armpits, neck, head, and groin.