Red Cross Hot Weather Tips for Safety
"Emergency Crisis" Declared as Prolonged Severe Heat Batters United States
As we enter into warmer weather, the American Red Cross is urging Americans to take action to protect themselves from extreme
heat. Following are tips from the Red Cross on how to beat the heat.
In the Hot Weather:
- Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
- Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine which dehydrate the body.
- Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein which increase metabolic heat.
- Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.
- Stay indoors when possible.
Know What These Heat Related Terms Mean:
- Heat wave: More than 48 hours of high heat
(90 F or higher) and high humidity (80 percent relative humidity
or higher) are expected.
- Heat index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit
that tells how hot it really feels with the heat and humidity.
Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 F.
- Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains
and spasms due to heavy exertion. They usually involve the abdominal
muscles or the legs. It is generally thought that the loss of
water and salt from heavy sweating causes the cramps.
- Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is less dangerous
than heat stroke. It typically occurs when people exercise heavily
or work in a warm, humid place where body fluids are lost through
heavy sweating. Fluid loss causes blood flow to decrease in the
vital organs, resulting in a form of shock. With heat exhaustion,
sweat does not evaporate as it should, possibly because of high
humidity or too many layers of clothing. As a result, the body
is not cooled properly. Signals include cool, moist, pale or flushed
skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness;
and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
- Heat stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat
stroke is life-threatening. The victim's temperature control system,
which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body
temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result
if the body is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red and
dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid,
shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high--sometimes
as high as 105 F.
General Care for Heat Emergencies:
Cool the Body
Heat cramps/heat exhaustion:
- Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Give a half glass of cool water every
15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make
conditions worse. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or wet sheets.
- Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local EMS number. Move the person
to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. If you have ice packs or cold packs,
place them on each of the victim's wrists and ankles, in the armpits and on the neck to cool the large blood vessels.
(Do not use rubbing alcohol because it closes the skin's pores and prevents heat loss.) Watch for signals of breathing
problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.