Millions of people in several western states face extremely hot temperatures over the holiday weekend and the American Red Cross has steps they can take to help stay safe when the temperatures soar.
Extreme and humidity can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year. Some people are more at risk of developing a heat-related illness, including adults age 65 and older, those with chronic medical conditions, people who work outside, infants and children and athletes.
Stay cool. Stay hydrated. Stay informed. Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, they will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who have no air conditioning, spend much of their time alone or are likely to be affected by the heat.
- Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle — even for a minute. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.
- Check your local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips and to learn about any cooling shelters in your area.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- 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. When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness.
- Check on animals frequently, and make sure they have plenty of shade and cool water.
MONITOR THOSE AT HIGH RISK: Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others:
- Infants and young children
- People 65 years of age or older
- People who are overweight
- People who overexert during work or exercise
- People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation
Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children need much more frequent watching
COOLING CENTERS AND COVID-19 If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should seek relief from the heat in public facilities that do. In the current coronavirus pandemic, someone going to a public facility to stay cool should wear a cloth face covering and maintain social distancing, ideally at least six feet between individuals. Families who live together do not need to maintain physical distancing.
Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; or exhaustion. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, move them to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing. Spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths to the skin. If the person is conscious, provide small amounts of cool water to drink slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency. Signs include hot, red skin, which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature. If you suspect someone is experiencing heat stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. If possible, move the person to a cooler place and immerse them up to their neck in cold water. Otherwise, spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.
DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts including heat warnings. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.