Michiganders urged to take precautions to prevent heat-related illness as temps climb across the state

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2021
Contact: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. - With temperatures expected to reach close to 90 degrees in parts of Michigan's lower peninsula starting today and extending over the next several days, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reminding all residents to stay cool to beat the heat.

MDHHS routinely reviews emergency department (ED) data for heat-related illness. As daily temperatures rise above 80 degrees, ED visits for heat-related illness tend to increase. This is often more likely for the first high-heat event of the year as people are not as used to those temperatures and are not taking the necessary precautions.

"It's important Michiganders stay hydrated and understand the risks of excessive heat exposure during this warm weather," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. "Young children, older adults and those who have medical conditions are at increased risk for heat-related illness, so be sure to check frequently on them and others in your community who may need additional assistance."

To prevent complications from the heat, residents are encouraged to:

  • Drink more fluids and avoid liquids with large amounts of sugar or alcohol.
  • Limit outdoor activities to when it is coolest in the morning and evening.
  • Spend time indoors in air conditioning.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
  • Wear sunscreen, as sunburn affects a body's ability to cool down.
  • Check on elderly neighbors and relatives to determine if they need assistance.

For those without access to air conditioning, text or call Michigan 211 or contact your local health department to find out if there is a cooling center nearby. You can also spend some time at an air-conditioned store, shopping mall or other public building - even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help. Remember to follow guidance regarding COVID-19 precautions including wearing a mask or other face covering if not vaccinated and practicing social distancing (keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from others).

In addition to staying hydrated and out of the sun, residents are reminded to never leave children or pets alone in a car even with windows cracked. Temperatures inside a car can easily be double the temperature outside, and because a child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's they are more susceptible to heatstroke.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are both forms of heat-related illness. Signs of heat-related illness vary but may include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting, an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F) and tiredness. Heatstroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature and can result in death if not treated promptly.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has also issued an Air Quality Action Alert in several counties for Friday, May 21 due to potentially unhealthy levels of ozone. Poor air quality caused by higher levels of ozone can harm certain sensitive populations such as children, older adults, and those with asthma or other breathing problems. More information and updates on Air Quality Alerts are available at EGLE's MIAir Page.

For more information about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from heat-related illness, see the MDHHS Heat Awareness and Safety Fact Sheet, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

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