As temperatures soar and heatwaves sweep across the nation, it is essential for everyone to take proactive measures to protect their health and well-being. In light of these extreme weather conditions, Meritus Health is sharing valuable information on staying safe during a heatwave and knowing when to opt for virtual care or seek a higher level of medical attention.
“Heatwaves can pose significant health risks, especially for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, young children and individuals with pre-existing health conditions,” said Christina Scuderi, CRNP, a provider for MeritusNow, the health system’s virtual care option.
To safeguard against heat-related illnesses, Scuderi recommend the following safety tips:
·Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, as they can lead to dehydration.
·Seek Shade and Limit Outdoor Activities: If possible, stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). If you must be outside, seek shaded areas and reduce physical activity. For children participating in outdoor activities, they should take frequent breaks in the shade and drink plenty of fluids (no juice or soda).
·Wear Appropriate Clothing: Choose lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing to help your body stay cool.
·Use Fans or Air Conditioning: If available, use fans and air conditioning to cool down indoor spaces. If you don't have access to air conditioning at home, consider spending time in public places with air-conditioning, such as libraries, malls, or community centers.
·Check on Vulnerable Individuals: Regularly check on elderly neighbors, young children, and those with chronic health conditions to ensure their safety during the heatwave.
In some cases, heat-related illnesses can be effectively managed through virtual care options, while in others, a higher level of medical attention is necessary.
“Virtual care is an excellent choice for individuals experiencing mild heat-related symptoms or non-urgent health concerns. Through virtual consultations, patients can receive medical advice and guidance on managing minor health issues from the comfort of their homes,” Scuderi said.
Common situations suitable for virtual care include heat exhaustion prevention tips, mild dehydration and heat rash management.
In addition to the virtual care option, Meritus has expanded its locations to provide expanded access to care for anyone in need.
“We’ve recently opened our Meritus Primary Care office on Prospect Street for our neighbors in downtown Hagerstown. This location provides walk-in access for those who need it, and we encourage anyone who may be suffering from heat-related illnesses to stop by,” said Vice President of Physician Services, Miranda Ramsey.
For more severe heat-related illnesses or emergency situations, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial. Signs of heatstroke, such as high body temperature (above 103°F), confusion, rapid heartbeat, nausea and headache, require urgent medical intervention. Additionally, if someone loses consciousness or has seizures due to heat exposure, calling emergency services (e.g., 911) is essential.
Meritus encourages everyone to prioritize their health and well-being during heatwaves by following the safety guidelines provided and being mindful of their unique medical needs.
Meritus Primary Care – Prospect Street is located at 200 N. Prospect Street in Hagerstown. The office can be reached at 240-928-0885.
Visit MeritusHealth.com/Now for more information or to schedule a virtual care appointment.