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Rice County Public Health would like to remind residents of the dangers associated with high heat and humidity. Heat is the #1 weather related killer in the United States, and those deaths are preventable. It is important that people are prepared for extreme heat and practice heat safety.Listen to local weather forecasts and be aware of heat advisory notifications. To stay cool and hydrated during a heat wave drink plenty of fluids, slow down, stay indoors, and avoid strenuous outdoor activities. Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles, and always “look before you lock.” For those needing to be outdoors in the heat, limit activities to morning and evening hours, drink plenty of fluids, and take frequent breaks in the shade or an air-conditioned building.Heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion can be very serious if not treated immediately. Signs of these illnesses include muscle cramps, heavy sweating, flushed skin, headache, nausea, dizziness and a rapid heart rate. Individuals with these symptoms should move to a cooler area, drink cool water or sports drinks, and rest. If symptoms last longer than one hour they should seek medical attention.Heat stroke is life threatening because the body can no longer cool itself and requires medical attention at once. Signs of heat stroke include hot skin, headache, confusion, seizure, irritability, and changes in consciousness, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting and an oral body temperature of 104 degrees and above. In this situation, 9-1-1 should be called immediately.People without air conditioning may need to find a cool place to go for relief from the heat and humidity, and should consider public places such as shopping malls, libraries, theaters, schools or museums.Be prepared and protect yourself and others from the effects of extreme heat. Remember to check on friends and neighbors who are elderly, homebound or without air conditioning to make sure they are safe and staying cool too.More heat safety tips can be found at the Minnesota Department of Health website: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/climatechange/extremeheat.htmlCONTACTS:Deb Purfeerst, Rice County Public Health Director, (507) 332-6111Sara Folsted, Rice County Administrator, (507) 332-6121