May 25th, 2018 is Heat Safety Awareness Day!
Here are some tips to safely handle the heat:
Foods and Fluids:
- Drink plenty of water, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink; at that point, you’re already dehydrated. Note: if your doctor limits the amount of fluid you should drink, or has you on water pills, ask your doctor how much you should drink during this hot weather.
- Limit your intake of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages; these will dehydrate you.
- Also limit drinks with substantial amounts of sugar, since these can cause you to lose more body fluid.
- Very cold drinks may cause stomach cramps, so drink them slow.
- Sweating removes electrolytes (salt and minerals) from the body. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of a cool fluid per hour. Consider drinking a sports drink (such as Gatorade or Powerade) that can replace the electrolytes. Note: if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before using a sports drink, because of the added salt.
- Avoid hot foods and heavy meals – they add heat to your body, and you’re trying to cool off!
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Tip for the rest of the summer: outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
- Wear as little clothing as possible when you are at home.
- If you don’t have air conditioning, stay on the lowest floor of your house, out of the sunshine (basements are a great cool location).
- Electric fans may provide some comfort, but when the temperature goes over about 95 degrees, fans will not prevent heat-related illness.
- Taking a cool shower or bath will help cool you off, then move to the coolest area of your house.
- Limit the use of your stove, oven, and clothes dryer to keep the temperature lower in your house.
- If you must be outside, try to limit your activity to morning and evening hours.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
- Wear a wide hat to protect the head and face, and sunglasses.
- Rest as often as possible in shady areas so that your body’s thermostat will have a chance to recover.
- Sunburn prevents your body from cooling itself properly and causes a loss of body fluids. Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher; apply 30 minutes prior to going outside and reapply it according to the package directions.
- If you are not accustomed to working or exercising in the high heat and humidity, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually.
- If your heart starts to pound and you start gasping for breath, STOP all activity immediately. Get into a cool area or at least into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.
- If working outdoors, buddy-up with a coworker. You watch over them, and they watch over you.
Watch over those in High-Risk Groups:
- Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects of hot temperatures and can’t get drinks for themselves.
- People 65 years of age or older often do not compensate for heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and respond to change in temperature.
- Those who are overweight tend to retain more body heat, so are more prone to heat sickness.
- People who are ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, may be affected more by extreme heat.
- Likewise, those who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation, can be more prone to heat illnesses.
- Check on those at risk at least twice a day, as well as family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
Extreme Heat Terminology:
Heat Advisory –
Issued when the heat, or combination of heat and humidity, is expected to impact much of the population.
Excessive Heat Warning –
Issued when the heat, or heat plus humidity, is expected to be dangerous for a substantial portion of the population.
Heat Index –
A combination of temperature and relative humidity, which indicates what the hot and humid air feels like. It’s the body’s perception of the “apparent” temperature based on both actual temperature and the amount of moisture present in the air. Humidity (mugginess) makes the temperature seem higher than it is. In addition, exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.
Heat Cramps –
Muscle pains and spasms, usually in the arms or legs, caused by heavy exertion and heavy perspiration. Although heat cramps are the least severe of the heat illnesses, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Heat Exhaustion –
Can occur when exercising heavily or work in a hot, humid place, with heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, cold, clammy skin, a weak pulse, fainting, and vomiting. If not treated, the victim’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat Stroke (aka Sunstroke) –
A life-threatening condition where the victim’s temperature control system stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Symptoms include high fever, collapse, and sometimes convulsions or coma.
Treatment for Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke:
The treatment for a heat-related condition is to get the victim’s temperature down. Call 911 then you can try:
- Move the person out of the sun and to a cool place is possible (outside, get under shade).
- Immerse the victim in cool water, or clothes dipped in cool water.
- Evaporation Cooling: Mist cold water onto the skin while fanning the body. The evaporation cools the skin.
- Place ice packs where large veins come close to the surface of the skin, such as the groin, armpit, neck, and back.
With summer approaching, let’s be careful out with the heat there.
For More Information, Here are Additional Tips from The National Weather Service.