Heat Wave Burns the East Coast– Heat Safety is a Priority

Thursday, June 09, 2011 — Record high temperatures are sweeping several states again this week, making heat safety a priority. To keep yourself and your family safe, follow these precautions.

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • 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.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors, and use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • 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.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles. Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

HEAT-RELATED EMERGENCIES
Excessive heat and humidity is not just uncomfortable—it can lead to a life-threatening situation. Know the signs for each of these conditions and what to do if they occur.

Heat Cramps
These are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. They are caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity.

Signs: cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.

What to do:

  • Move the person to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition.
  • If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Heat Stroke
Also known as sunstroke, this is a life-threatening condition in which a person’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself.

Signs: hot, red skin that may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature.

What to do:

  • Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
  • Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by giving care as you would for heat exhaustion. If needed, continue rapid cooling by applying ice or cold packs wrapped in a cloth to the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits.
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