Dept. of Health warns New Mexicans about potential heat illnesses

New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health is encouraging people to aware of heat-related illnesses and to look out for themselves and others as temperatures rise above 90 degrees across most of the state. Throughout the weekend high temperatures above 90 degrees are expected.

NMDOH says that outdoor recreation and activities should not be done during the hottest times of the day which are between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The department also reminds residents never to leave children or pets inside a parked car even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Data from the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking Program has discovered that although temperatures of 86 degrees Fahrenheit may not seem high, it’s the temperature historically at which half of people requiring treatment for heat-related illnesses in New Mexico have sought medical help at hospitals and emergency departments.

“People who work outdoors are especially prone to heat-related illnesses, which can have serious health outcomes,” said Dept. of Health Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel in a press release. “The best ways to prevent heat-related illness are to stay hydrated, stay in the shade where possible, and take rest breaks if you are working outdoors.”

NMDOH states that employers should have occupational health plans that allow employees to adapt behaviors to high temperatures, provide water, and to provide shaded areas to rest. Heat stress can have symptoms that include dizziness, nausea, cramping, and weakness.

During extreme heat, residents are encouraged to stay inside areas with evaporative cooling or central air conditioning to help them cool off and to drink plenty of water. NMDOH says community organizations should consider deploying their plans and systems as needed to ensure people have access to dirnking water and to check on individuals who are home-bound including those in quarantine.

Communities that offer cool places for those who do not have personal access to housing with cooling are urged to ensure they comply with CDC guidance on COVID-19 and cooling centers. NMDOH offers tips online to help spot signs of heat-related illnesses.

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