Summer Heat Safety 6/2010
Heat Related Statistics-
- In a normal year, over 200 Americans die due to heat related illnesses.
- During the 1980 heat wave, more than 1,250 Americans died due to heat related illnesses.
- On average, heat related illness claims more lives yearly than floods, tornadoes, and lightning combined.
- Did you know that on a 90 degree day, a parked car with the windows open can reach 160 degrees in 10 minutes?
- What are the Warning Signs of Heat Related Illness?
- The warning signs of heat related illnesses vary depending upon the severity of the heat exposure. The are 4 basic categories of heat related illnesses.
- Sunburn Signs of sunburn include: redness and pain. Severe cases may include swelling of the skin, blisters, fever and headaches.
- What to do: apply ointment for mild cases. Serious cases should be seen by your primary care provider.
- Heat Cramps Signs of heat cramps include: heavy sweating and painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs and abdomen.
- What to do: Apply firm pressure to the cramping muscle or gently massage to relieve cramp. Give sips of water. Fast water intake could cause nausea. If symptoms persist, consult your health care provider.
- Heat Exhaustion Signs of heat exhaustion include: heavy sweating; general weakness; cold, pale or clammy skin; fainting; and vomiting. A person with heat exhaustion may have a normal body temperature.
- What to do: get the exposed person out of the heat immediately. Apply cool, wet clothes. Give sips of water. Fast water intake can induce vomiting. If symptoms persist, consult your health care provider.
- Heat Stroke (Sunstroke) Signs of a heat stroke include: body temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, hot dry skin, rapid pulse and loss of consciousness.
- What to do: Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Go to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible. Do not give fluids.
- All heat related illnesses may occur quicker, and be aggravated, by insufficient hydration. Heat illness can be avoided. Your body needs water to keep cool. Proper hydration helps the body stay cool by diffusing water through the skin by sweating. Be sure to drink plenty of water on warm days, even if you are not feeling thirsty. Once you become ill, it’s too late.
What is the Heat Index (HI)?
The heat index (HI), sometimes called the “apparent temperature”, is a measurement for how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. For example, if the air temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity is 55%, then the heat index temperature is 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Note: the heat index normal values are devised for shady, lightly windy conditions. Full sun can increase a heat index value by 15%. Heat related illnesses are most prevalent when there is a heat index of 90 degrees or higher.
Tips for Preventing Heat Related Illnesses-
- Above all, drink plenty of water. Drink 2 to 4 glasses of water an hour while in the heat. Don’t try to drink it all at once. Drink small amounts continuously.
- Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages which tend to dehydrate the body.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Hats are also a good idea.
- Eat small meals. Avoid high protein meals which increase metabolism and thereby raise body temperature.
- Slow down. Avoid outdoor strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activities, do them in the coolest part of the day.
- Take time out during the hottest part of the day. Rest some place cool.
- Never leave someone in a parked car! Not even for a moment. Don’t leave pets in a parked car, either. Pets can suffer heat related illness too. Consult your primary care provider if you have any concerns about how your pre-existing medical condition or your medication may be affected by the heat.
Consult your primary care provider for specific medical questions