Summer’s warm weather can be deadly. 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.
You will likely hear weather forecasters use these terms when a heat wave is predicted in your community:
- Excessive Heat Watch - Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
- Heat Advisory - Heat Index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs= 100-105° Fahrenheit).
- Excessive Heat Warning - Heat Index values are forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs= 105-110° Fahrenheit).
The American Red Cross has steps you can take to help stay safe when the temperatures soar. You can also find more information here.
TEN HEAT SAFETY TIPS
1. Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.
2. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
3. 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.
4. If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should seek relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day in places like schools, libraries, theaters, malls, etc.
5. Avoid extreme temperature changes.
6. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
7. Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
8. Postpone outdoor games and activities. The Red Cross has a First Aid, Health and Safety for Coaches online course designed to give those who take it an overview of first aid and "best practices" for many first aid situations encountered by coaches. Click here to find a class near you.
9. Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
10. Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water. More information on how heat can affect your furry friends is available here.
Heat Exhaustion: 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, 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.
Heat Stroke: Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 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.