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Dangerous Heat, Power Outages Have Most of Country Sweltering

Millions of people are without power today in areas where temperatures are expected to soar after strong storms slammed communities from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic.

The Red Cross urges people to follow these steps to stay safe while the power is out:

  • If a community is without power, people should check on those who are alone or more likely to be affected by the heat. They should also make sure animals have plenty of water and a shady place to rest.
  • If someone is using a generator, they should connect the equipment they want powered directly to the generator outlets. Do not connect a generator to the home’s electrical system.
  • While the power is out, folks should keep their refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. If the refrigerator remains closed, it can keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer can hold its temperature for about two days if the door remains closed.
  • People should turn appliances and electrical equipment off and unplug them, leaving one light on to know when the power is restored.
  • Those affected should travel only if necessary. Traffic lights are out and roads will be congested.

People should take these steps to deal with the heat safely:

  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • 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. Ensure they have water and a shady place to rest.

HEAT CAN BE DANGEROUS Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. To help avoid problems, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

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 every 15 minutes.

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 or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are 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 IS LIFE-THREATENING. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately if some shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

For more information on what to do during this heat wave, you can download the Red Cross heat wave safety checklist, or download the Red Cross First Aid app available for iPhone and Android users in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.