Dr. Mallika Marshall from WBZ-TV in Boston gave some tips to help beat the heat, Friday on The Early Show.
Marshall says bodies normally cool down by sweating. But in extreme heat, the body can lose its ability to regulate temperature. The sweating function fails and the body temperature rises rapidly, resulting in heatstroke. Heatstroke is a serious medical condition that can damage the brain and other organs, and even result in death.
There are symptoms that could indicate a case of heatstroke, she says, including: red, hot and dry skin; rapid strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; and confusion. A person with heatstroke may suffer from all or just some of these symptoms.
If you think someone might be suffering from heatstroke, Marshall advises calling 911 immediately. Then get the person to a shaded or an air-conditioned area. Douse them in cold water. If it's not too humid, you can wrap the victim in a wet sheet and fan them vigorously. Their body temperature should rise no higher than 101 to 102 degrees F.
Marshall says anyone is susceptible to heatstroke when the weather is hot. But there are certain groups who are more at risk, such as the very old and the very young.
She advises people with older relatives or friends who live alone to check on them when the temperature is dangerously high. Many senior citizens are on fixed incomes and avoid turning on the air conditioner because it's expensive to operate, which can leave them especially vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat.
Marshall advises those suffering from heatstroke, or those seeking to prevent its onset, to drink water to replace lost minerals, move slowly, seek air conditioning and take cold showers.
Marshall also suggests mowing the lawn in the early morning or at dusk if you have to do it, and to advises those at high risk to use a buddy system.
She also says never leave children or pets in a parked car.
And, if you don't have air conditioning at home, try to spend time in a public place that's air conditioned, such as a mall or a library. Even just a few hours of air conditioning a day can reduce the risk of heat-related illness.
It's also very important to remember to use a sun-block if when spending time outdoors, even if you don't normally burn. Don't underestimate the power of the sun and the heat, she says.
There are other less severe heat-related illnesses to be on the alert for. Heat exhaustion, while not as serious as heat stroke, is the result of prolonged exposure to heat and not enough body fluid. The symptoms of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache and nausea or vomiting.
Heat exhaustion can affect the elderly, people with high blood pressure and those who work outside. Outdoor workers may also be prone to heat rash due to prolonged sweating, or heat cramps from too much exertion. Those suffering respiratory ailments like asthma should also take extra precautions because high heat and humidity causes air pollution to put more of a strain on breathing.
If there is a heat advisory, activities such as jogging or playing soccer in the outdoors are best avoided, experts say. Swimming is okay. But if possible, Marshall says, the best thing to do on a hot day is go to the gym or just rest for the day.