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Dickinson County Health Department

Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness

The best defense is prevention:

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him 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. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • 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. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
  • 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.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
    • Infants and young children
    • People aged 65 or older
    • People who have a mental illness
    • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
  • Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.

If you must be out in the heat:

  • 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. Remember the warning in the first “tip” (above), too.
  • Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).


Available Services
  • WIC
  • Immunizations (adult and child)
  • Foot care for Seniors
  • Prenatal breastfeeding classes and postnatal support
  • Breast Pump Rental
  • Healthy Start Home Visitor
  • Child Services (Including Kan Be Healthy physicals and hearing / vision screenings)
For more information call 785-263-4179 (Abilene) or 785-258-2741 (Herington)

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            Summer Schedules Mean More Kids Home Alone

The summer months represent fun in the sun for school
-aged children, but they also signal a shift in the family’s daily routine. Are you considering leaving your child home alone during the summer instead of taking him/her to a sitter? Safe Kids Kansas and the Department for Children and Families (DCF) have some tips on how to decide if your child is ready to be home alone.
“Developmentally, children are generally ready to be home alone around the age of 12 or 13,” says Cherie Sage, State Director of Safe Kids Kansas. “However, children develop at different rates, so use your own discretion to determine your child’s maturity level and capabilities.” For example, if you have an impulsive 13
year-old who is a big risk taker, you might be hesitant to leave him or her alone. On the other hand, a thoughtful 11-year-old who has a good track record of following household rules might be ready. Most states, including Kansas, don’t have regulations or laws about when a child is considered old enough to stay at home alone or babysit another child.

DCF has some general guidelines to help you make the decision when your child is ready to be home alone:
Age— Young children from 0-6, should never be left alone for even a short period of time. Kids 6-9 can be left alone for only short periods of time.

Children 10 and older can be left alone,
depending on other factors.

Length of time alone— Consider whether your child is ready to spend the whole day alone or if only a couple of hours is more appropriate.

Maturity— Consider your child’s ability to fend for himself/herself and your child’s level of common sense. Certainly, children with developmental disabilities and emotion issues should be monitored closely.
Knowledge of emergency preparedness— Ask your child if he/she knows what to do in the event of a fire, tornado, stranger at the door, etc. Ask “what ifs.”
Availability of adults— Children must know how to reach a responsible adult at any point in the day for any reason, even if it’s just to provide reassurance if the child becomes fearful.
Insecurity— Children should feel comfortable with the idea that they will be home alone. The more fearful he/she is, the less likely he/she will be able to respond appropriately to emergency situations.
Behavior—children who misbehave, vandalize, steal, intimidate neighbors, set fires or are a danger to themselves need close supervision. “It’s important that parents consider all of the possible risks involved when determining if their child is ready to stay home alone,” DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said. “Never assume your child is ready because he/she seems old enough.”
Each year, more than 3 million kids ages 14 and under get hurt at home – and more than 2,000 children die from unintentional injuries in the home. Fire, suffocation, drowning, choking, firearm and poisoning are among the top leading causes of unintentional home injury death for this age group. “Teach your children about hazards around the home, and make sure they know what to do in an emergency,” says Sage. “The first time your kids stay home alone, it should be for a short time and you should be nearby.”
Safe Kids Kansas also recommends parents take the following precautions to ensure your child’s safety:
Carry a cell phone and keep it turned on. Make sure your children know where you will be and what time you will return. In addition to your cell phone number, post emergency numbers (police, fire, EMS, doctor and the poison control hotline, 800-222-1222) and a friend or neighbor’s number by every phone in the home. Teach your child their home address so they can tell emergency personnel where to dispatch assistance, if necessary.

Prepare a snack or meal in advance — preferably one that does not need to be heated. If your children will need to cook, remind them never to leave an oven or stove unattended while cooking and to turn it off when they are finished.

Make sure potentially poisonous or hazardous household items are locked up out of reach —especially medications, matches, lighters, weapons and cleaning products.
Review your family’s emergency plans and make sure your children know what to do if the smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector goes off. Practice two escape routes from each room.

Review and practice plans for other types of emergencies, such as severe weather. Ensure they know where to go for emergency shelter.

Show your children where you keep your first aid kit and how to use basic first aid supplies.

For more information on home safety, call 785-296-1223 or 785-296-0351 or visit www.safekids.org.








Contact Us
Dickinson County Health Department
1001 N Brady
Abilene, KS 67410

Ph: (785) 263-4179
Fx: (785) 263-0335

Abilene Clinic
8:00 am - 6:00 pm

Tuesday - Friday
8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Herington Clinic
2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month
9:00 am - 4:00 pm