Record heat is expected in as many as 20 states through the weekend with temperatures rising as much as 30 degrees above normal. The National Weather Service reports almost 200 million people across the Mid-Atlantic, North and South Carolina, the Ohio/Tennessee valleys and the Northeast will be affected.
Every year, high temperatures and humidity claim the lives of more than 600 people in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Red Cross has steps you can take to help stay safe as the weekend’s temperatures soar.
WHO’S AT RISK? Some people are more at risk of developing a heat-related illness, including adults over 65, those with chronic medical conditions, people who work outside, infants and children, and athletes. Some may take medications that make the effects of extreme heat worse. People with heart disease, poor blood circulation, obesity and mental illness are also at risk for getting sick if the temperatures climb.
HEAT SAFETY TIPS
- Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- 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.
- If you don’t have air conditioning, seek relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day in places like schools, libraries, theaters, malls, etc.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- 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 and use a buddy system when working outdoors.
- Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water and shade.
Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 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, weaknessand 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 911.
HEAT STROKE LIFE-THREATENING Heat stroke usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 911 immediately if someone 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.
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 with more than 35 customizable severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross First Aid app puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid scenarios, including heat 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.