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Posted on: June 4, 2020

Department of Labor Issues Alert for Heat Stress Risk

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The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) encourages everyone statewide to be mindful of heat-related illness and know the signs to look out for yourself and others as temperatures in most of the state have risen above 90 degrees, and southern New Mexico counties are experiencing extreme heat.

It is anticipated that high temperatures above 90 degrees will persist throughout the weekend. Outdoor recreation and outdoor activities should not be done during the typical hottest times of the day, between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Further, NMDOH urges New Mexicans to never leave children, pets or anyone in a parked car, even for a few minutes. 

Data analysis from the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking Program has found that even though temperatures of 86 degrees Fahrenheit may not seem high by some standards, it’s the temperature historically at which half of the cases of people requiring treatment for heat-related illness in New Mexico have sought medical help at local hospitals and emergency departments. 

“People who work outdoors are especially prone to heat-related illnesses, which can have serious health outcomes,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “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.” Employers should implement occupational health plans that allow employees to adapt behaviors to high temperatures, provide water, and provide shaded areas for resting. 

Heat stress is a heat-related illness which can have many symptoms like dizziness, nausea, cramping, and weakness. To help New Mexicans and visitors spot the signs of heat-related illnesses and to help them avoid becoming ill, NMDOH offers tips at: https://nmtracking.org/health/heatstress/Heat.html.  

During this period of extreme heat, people should stay inside places with evaporative cooling (swamp coolers) or central air conditioning to cool off and should drink plenty of plain water. Local entities and community organizations should consider deploying their plans and systems as needed for ensuring people in their community have access to drinking water and checking on those who are home-bound (including those in self-isolation and quarantine) and the elderly. If communities provide cool places for those who do not have personal access to housing with cooling, assure that facilities comply with CDC guidance on COVID-19 and cooling centers, found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/cooling-center.html.  

For more information about heat-related illnesses and much more, please visit https://www.nmhealth.org/ 

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