Summer is a great time to spend time in the sun. But while you’re enjoying summer fun, take steps to make sure you’re careful in extreme heat. According to the National Weather Service, heat is a leading weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year and even more heat-related illnesses. Extremely hot and humid weather challenges human and canine bodies’ability to cool themselves. When a body heats too rapidly to properly cool itself, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, body temperature rises. If this occurs, the victim may develop a heat-related illness.
Symptoms of Excessive Heat Exposure
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a list of warning signs and symptoms of heat illness, as well as recommended first aid steps. The following is an adaptation of that list:
- Reserve strenuous activity for the coolest times of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place (which is not necessarily indoors). I prefer hanging out by the fridge to cool down. You never know when someone will open the door. Added bonus? Food could fall out.
- Dress for the season. Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight. You think clothes are hot? Try wearing a fur coat in the sun!
- Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Use A/C, if possible, or spend time in air-conditioned public locations such as malls and libraries or (my personal favorite) meat lockers.
- Use portable electric fans to remove hot air from rooms and replace it with cool air.
- Do not direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself if the room temperature is hotter than 90°F. The dry blowing air will actually dehydrate you faster, which could threaten your health.
- Minimize direct sunlight. Sunburn reduces the body’s ability to dissipate heat.
- Take a cool bath or shower. Or run through the sprinklers and drink hose water.
- Avoid taking salt tablets, unless specified by a physician.
- Check on elderly, and people with compromised immune systems, who may need help responding to the heat.
- Keep your children, disabled adults, and pets safe during tumultuous heat waves. Each year, dozens of children and hundreds of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. No matter how much we pant, dogs can’t cool off in a hot car!
- Don’t leave valuable electronic equipment, such as cellphones and GPS units in hot cars.
- Ventilate rooms if you are using volatile chemicals.
Signs & Symptoms of Heat-Related Illnesses
- Heavy sweating during intense exercise
- Muscle pain or spasms
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale and clammy skin
- Fast, weak pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Fatigue or weakness
- Fainting (passing out)
- High Body Temp (103 F or Higher)
- Altered mental state (I think a few cats I know must have heat stroke.)
- Hot, red, dry or damp skin
- One or more of the following: throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing, body temp above 103F
- Hot, red, dry or moist skin
- Quick strong pulse
- Loss of consciousness
What to Do:
- Call 911. Heat-stroke is a medical emergency.
- Move the person or poochto a cooler place.
- Help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cold bath.
- DO NOT administer fluids.
What to Do:
- Move affected person to a cooler environment
- Lay the victim down and loosen their clothing.
- Put cool, wet washcloths to the body or take a cold bath
- Fan or move the victim to an air-conditioned room.
- Offer sips of water. I prefer gulps.
- Get medical help right away if the person is throwing up, symptoms worsen or persist for more than an hour.
What to Do:
- Stop physical activity and move to a cool place.
- Drink water or a sports drink.
- Wait for cramps to subside before continuing physical activity.
- Seek medical attention immediately if cramps last longer than an hour, if you’re on a low-sodium diet, or if you have heart problems.
- Painful, red and warm skin
- Blisters on the skin
What to Do:
- Stay out of the sun until the sunburn heals.
- Apply cool washcloths on affected areas or take a cold bath.
- Apply moisturizing lotion to affected areas.
- Never break blisters.
Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin or in elbow creases). That sounds painful.
What to Do:
- Stay in a cool, dry place.
- Keep the rash dry.
- User powder to soothe the pain.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
We are committed to your safety this summer and all through the year. Our training helps with compliance to fire life safety codes and instantly issues a certificate to building occupants who complete the course! It’s a convenient and affordable solution designed to fit the training needs of your facility. Training is available for tenants of high-rise residential, commercial and multi-use properties. Click here for more information or to subscribe.