Patty Craig: A Slice of Time
We’ve had some hot summer days. Some of them brought dangerously high temperatures. The American Red Cross has advice posted on their website to help people stay safe in hot weather. But when in doubt, seek professional medical help.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained: “Heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, happen when the body is not able to properly cool itself. While the body normally cools itself by sweating, during extreme heat, this might not be enough. In these cases, a person’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down. This can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs” (https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.html).
According to the American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-How-to-Stay-Safe-in-Hot-W...), some tips for staying safe in the summer heat include the following:
· Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.
· Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
· Avoid extreme temperature changes.
· Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
· Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
· Postpone outdoor games and activities.
· Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
· Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
· Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
· If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
The American Red Cross website (http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-How-to-Stay-Safe-in-Hot-W... http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of...) also warned that excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The following advice was provided:
1. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water, a commercial sports drink, fruit juice or milk every 15 minutes.
2. If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths to the skin. Fan the person. If conscious, give the person small amounts of cool water, a commercial sports drink, fruit juice or milk to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses fluids, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.
3. Heat stroke is life threatening. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; high body temperature; and seizures. Call 9-1-1 immediately and move the person to a cooler place. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or ice.
The CDC website stated that anyone can develop heat stress. However, the people with higher risks of experiencing heat stress or heat-related death are infants and children up to four years of age, people 65 and older, people who are overweight, and people who are ill or on certain medications. Air conditioning – even for a few hours a day – is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness. The CDC advises that we stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay informed.