Precautions to Prevent Heat Exhaustion and other Heat-Related Illness

For Immediate Release

May 24, 2016;  12:15 PM

DPHSS Release No. 2016-043

The Department of Public Health and Social Services would like to remind all visitors, delegates and island residents that the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts (Festpac) has officially begun and the event sites can be increasingly crowded.  While beautiful, Guam’s sunny weather can result in serious health risks if not properly prepared for.  Exposure to excessive heat may result in heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and possible death.  People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves.  The body normally cools itself by sweating. 

When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions related to risk include age (the elderly and young children), obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, prescription drug use, and alcohol use.     

With that in mind, we would like to encourage everyone attending the Festival of Pacific Arts to take precautions to prevent heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses.  We want to ensure that everyone has a safe and healthy Festival of Pacific Arts.  

  • Drink plenty of fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level.  Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Note that some venues do not have water readily available, therefore all participants should ensure bringing their own supply of bottled water to festival activities.  Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask your doctor how much you should drink while the weather is hot.

  • Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.

  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.

  • Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour.  A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Make sure to limit outdoor activity and exposure to heat whenever possible.

  • Try to rest often in shady areas.

  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.

  • Finally, help prevent sun-related damage to your skin by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).

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