Handling the Heat
Record heats have affected the majority of the US in all areas over time and referred to as the “dog days of summer.” The news media has reported many heat-related illnesses and deaths. Many blame the effects of global warming. Whatever the reasons for the extreme heat, it is important to remember that summer is “far from over” and you need to take extra precautions during these severe times to protect yourself and your family.
Do simple things to help keep cool.
▪ Start early by closing doors and windows to keep any cool morning air in. Shut doors and windows; use window coverings to cover windows and block out the hot sun.
▪ Use any fans available and if necessary, purchase tabletop or floor fans to assist with rising temperatures.
▪ If health permits, keep your air-conditioner at 78º.
▪ Change any appropriate filters - clogged filters reduce the efficiency of air-conditioners and can even cause them to break down.
▪ Keep an extra supply of ice on hand. If the power goes out, it can help with keeping everyone cool and prevent spoiling in your refrigeration.
Take extra personal precautions with your health.
▪ Drink lots of water - stay hydrated. If you grow tired of water, drink juices or other drinks as long as they do not contain caffeine.
▪ Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, colas, etc., because they can “dehydrate” you rather than re-supply the water you need in your body.
▪ Eat fresh fruits and vegetable - not only are they nutritious, but they contain water, which increases hydration.
▪ Wear lightweight clothes and loose fitting outfits. Wearing light-colored clothing helps deflect the light.
▪ If you do not have a source of recreation that will truly cool you off, “stay indoors.” Sometimes it does not help to go out in the heat to go swimming, boating, or participate in other outdoor activities - it may increase your body temperature instead.
▪ If you do go outside, seek shade whenever possible.
▪ Think cool and reduce your pace - when it is hot, slow down and above all, remain as calm as possible.
▪ Take regular breaks when you are working or doing any activity.
▪ Know and recognize the signs of heat-related illness - it can save your life or someone you know.
Recognize the Signs of Heat
Many times heat-related illnesses or deaths occur because people are unaware of the warning signs. Here are the American Red Cross definitions of heat-related illness.
▪ Heat cramps: these cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion, such as exercising and normally occur in the abdominal muscles or legs.
▪ Heat exhaustion: this occurs usually when people exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating.
▪ Heat stroke: This is life threatening and often known as “sunstroke.” The body temperature system, which cools the body, stops working properly. If you suspect heat stroke, get help as fast as possible; you could save their life or your own.
Early warning signals for heat-related illness
▪ Dizziness, weakness, or exhaustion
▪ Skin is either clammy and pale or dry and hot
Signals for heat stroke:
▪ Vomiting; shock or loss of consciousness
▪ Hot, dry skin and/or high body temperature
▪ Rapid, weak pulse and/or rapid, shallow breathing
What can you do?
▪ Cool the body as quickly as possible
▪ Administer fluids
▪ Get HELP - do not hesitate; call 9-1-1.
Heat is a very serious matter - learn how to recognize the signs and what to do. It could save your life.