RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — This week’s high temperatures, in addition to high humidity, will increase the feel of high temperatures. There are steps that you can take before it’s too late to avoid heat related illnesses.

The Virginia Department of Health has reported 299 heat related visits to care centers during last week alone. Of those visits, two out of three were males.

This week and throughout the summer, Virginia Department of Health have recommended ways that you can prevent mild heat illnesses like dehydration and heat cramps as well as more severe illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

Some tips that the Virginia Department of Health recommends are:

  • Drink water – When the temperature rises, it is important to drink plenty of water. Drinks that contain caffeine, large amounts of sugar or alcohol should be avoided because they can cause you to become dehydrated.
  • Keep cool indoors – On hot days, prevent illness by keeping cool indoors. If your home is not air conditioned, try to spend the hottest hours of the day in a cool public place such as a library, movie theater, or store.
  • Dress for the heat – Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella. Always apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
  • Limit physical activity – Avoid excessive physical exertion in hot temperatures, especially in the middle of the day. If you must work outdoors, stay hydrated by drinking 2-4 glasses of water each hour and take frequent breaks in a cool place. Even a few hours in an air-conditioned environment reduces the danger of heat-related illness.
  • Do not keep children or pets in cars – Temperatures inside a car with windows up can reach over 150 degrees quickly, resulting in heat stroke and death.
  • Check on your neighbors. Although anyone can suffer heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. People aged 65 or older are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses and complications that can result during periods of high temperatures and humidity.

Noticing the signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses can prevent serious complications to vital organs which can lead to death. 

The Virginia Department of Health advises people to watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Dehydration – Dehydration is caused by the excessive loss of water and salts from the body due to illness or from prolonged exposure to heat. Severe dehydration can become a life-threatening condition if not treated.
  • Heat Cramp – Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy physical activity in hot environments. Muscles most often affected include those of your calves, arms, abdominal wall and back. If you are suffering from heat cramps, rest for several hours and drink clear juice or an electrolyte-containing sports drink.
  • Heat Exhaustion – Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much water and salt from sweating during hot temperatures. The elderly, people who work outside and people with high blood pressure are most at risk of heat exhaustion. Continued exposure may lead to heat stroke, which is life-threatening.
  • Heat Stroke – Heat stroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by doing physical activity in hot weather. Sweating has usually stopped and your body temperature becomes too high; body temperatures can reach as high as 106 degrees in 15 minutes. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition and you should seek immediate medical attention if you or someone you know is suffering from heat stroke.