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Residents in Northwest Florida are familiar with extreme heat, but can sometimes become complacent. If you suspect any of these heat-related conditions, seek immediate medical attention.

Know the Signs

Heat Cramps: Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat Exhaustion: Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.

Heat Stroke: A life-threatening condition. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

Sun Stroke: Another term for heat stroke.

 During a Heat Emergency

Limit exposure to the sun and stay indoors.
Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles.
Stay on the lowest floor in air conditioning. If air conditioning is not available, stay in shaded area.
Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals.
Avoid using salt tablets unless directed by a physician.
Drink plenty of water. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease, are on fluid restricted diets, or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
Limit intake of alcoholic beverages. None is best.
Dress in loose, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head.
Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and live alone.
Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks.

 Don't forget your pets!

Look for signs of heat stress: heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, unsteadiness, vomiting or a deep red or purple tongue.
Never leave your pet in a parked vehicle.

If your pet is overheated, move him/her to a cooler area and take these emergency steps:

Apply cool (not cold) water all over your pet's body or soak him/her in a cool bath.
Offer water if your pet is alert and wants to drink, but do not force him/her to drink.
Take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.

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