CONTACT: Phyllis Jones—(202) 631-3077; [email protected]
(Washington, DC)— The District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) is reminding residents taking psychotropic medications to drink plenty of fluids and avoid direct exposure to high temperatures for longer than two hours as certain medications can affect the body’s response to heat and put them at risk for a heat-related illness or death.
DBH also is monitoring every certified residential facility to gauge its preparations for the heat, such as an adequate water supply and functioning air conditioners. Also, each operator must submit a relocation plan for its residents in the event of loss of air conditioning or power.
“We are doing all we can to make sure that our community partners are prepared and paying close attention to the people we serve for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” said Tanya A. Royster, MD, Director of the Department of Behavioral Health. “We know that some people taking psychotropic medications suffer from chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity or high blood pressure, which increases their risk”.
DBH offers the following tips to help residents stay health and cool in the heat:
- Drink plenty of water no matter your activity level. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
- Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar.
- Wear clothing that is loose-fitting, light colored and breathable.
- Limit sun exposure during mid-day hours; wear sunscreen with 30 SPF of higher.
- Watch for symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
- Never leave children or pets in vehicles
- Use a buddy system. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. Check on friends or neighbors who are 65 years of age or older at least twice a day. If you are in this age group, have a friend or relative call you twice a day.
- Avoid hot foods and heavy meals which add heat to your body.
- Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets in a shady area.
The DC Government has activated its Heat Emergency Plan including opening emergency Cooling Centers in publically accessible government facilities, homeless shelters, and senior citizen wellness centers. For information, go to heat.dc.gov or call the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center by dialing 311.
.About DBH: DBH provides both mental health and substance use disorder services for District residents through community based providers located across the District. Please call 1-888-7WE-HELP (1-888-793-4357) any time to talk to a counselor for help or more information.
Department of Behavioral Health: Twitter: @MindandBodyDC