Summer is the most popular time to travel. I love taking walking trips each summer. Despite this, the steady stream of recent terrorist attacks threatens to turn vacation dreams into holiday nightmares. Within the last two months in Britain alone–which was long considered a safe haven for international tourists–has been hit by a number of attacks, including one at a concert in Manchester that left 22 people dead and 116 injured, another at London Bridge which killed eight people and injured 48, and a third last week outside a mosque, which killed one person and injured 11.
Several hikers in Arizona were killed this summer when they engaged in strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. And an Indiana landscape crewman died when his body temperature soared to 108 degrees after he worked for nine hours in the direct sun, in 110 degree heat. These deaths are especially tragic because they could have been avoided if the victims had taken steps to avoid heat exhaustion – the precursor to heat stroke, potentially leading to death.
Heat stroke affects people engaged in recreation, at home, and on the job. What’s more, workplace heat exhaustion is a significant problem, with agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) working diligently to educate workers about the risks of heat-related deaths. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities can lead to heat-related illness.
Heat can strike any time of the year, in virtually any location, as it did last October when temperatures soared over 100 degrees across California. It gets hot in my doghouse. I wish I could install central air. With fall weather and associated slightly cooler temperatures, people have the tendency to grow complacent about heat exhaustion. But the risks are not relegated to a few summer months or tropical locations.
The following headlines illustrate the point:
- Bizarre September Heat Wave continues in Oklahoma.
- Heatwave hits London capitol.
- Los Angeles hotter than Palm Springs due to odd heatwave.
- Bay Area braces for a hot weekend.
- Glasgow is set for mini heat-wave.
Heat Exhaustion – How to Spot it and Stop it
The first step to heat exhaustion prevention is to pay attention to how your body feels and make sure you drink plenty of liquids. Next, heed these signs and contributing factors:
- Muscle cramping, weakness, and clammy skin are telltale signs of heat exhaustion, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
- If you aren’t sweating enough in heat, take notice. Dehydration occurs when the body cannot properly regulate internal temperature.
- In high heat, monitor alcohol use, as it can interrupt body heat regulation and cause dehydration. Seems like there are lots of reasons to refrain from imbibing. Personally, I prefer water.
- Watch what you wear. Excessive clothing can impact the body’s ability to regulate temperature. “Dressing for the weather” is vital to prevent this type of overheating. Babies and small children are at an increased risk of quickly developing heat exhaustion if they are overdressed.
Heat Stroke – the Warning Signs
After heat exhaustion comes heat stroke – a condition wherein death can occur in the absence of swift action. For example, a construction worker in North Naples, Florida recently succumbed to heat stroke after working on a roof in 90-degree heat.
Symptoms that suggest the onset of heat stroke
- Red, hot, dry skin, unlike the clamminess that often accompanies heat exhaustion
- Cessation of sweating, despite heat
- Seizures and general confusion/disorientation
- Rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing
At-home treatment for heat stroke includes wetting the victim’s skin, fanning him to increase air circulation, and possibly even submerging the person in a tub filled with ice. Heat stroke often requires a speedy trip to the emergency room, so the patient can receive specialized care. Once a person is unconscious or the body temperature reaches 104 degrees or higher, every minute counts.
Don’t forget to watch your pets for signs of heat stroke. Cats and dogs can suffer from heat stroke. Avoid long walks during the middle of the day and pack plenty of cold water for your dogs. But don’t forego the walk all together. We love to walk it at night. If your pooch is excessively panting, has sticky saliva, shows signs of dizziness, and/or vomits, cool your pet as soon as possible. In California, a bill is being considered which would protect someone who breaks a window to rescue a dog in a hot car. This bill makes sense to me, since we can’t open the car door ourselves and our coats keep us extra hot.
Remember that safety is a daily priority. Maintaining a state of preparedness is essential for every month of the year, no matter the temperature. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
You might be surprised to learn that, according to NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the United States is extreme heat. In fact, illnesses that are caused or made worse by extreme heat — including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease — currently lead to hundreds of injuries and deaths each year. When extreme heat is at its most deadly, it kills by forcing the human body beyond its capacity to cool itself down, slowing the processes by which normal body temperature is maintained. Too bad people can’t pant. I find that doing so provides me with a lot of relief from the heat.
Unfortunately, the number of heat-related deaths recorded annually is rising. For example, in 1995, 465 heat-related deaths occurred in Chicago. From 1999 to 2010, a total of 7,415 people died of heat-related deaths in the U.S., an average of about 618 deaths a year. And researchers say the number of deaths caused by hot weather in England and Wales could nearly triple by the middle of the century.
In addition to posing potentially life-threatening repercussions at home and abroad, extreme heat is dangerous for a myriad of reasons. In fact, extreme heat can:
- Overtax the power grid, due to the high demand of electricity for air conditioning units. Due to record-breaking temperatures across much of the state of California, thousands of Southern California Edison customers were recently without power for days. I guess they had to make do with candle light.
- Lead to an increased risk of wildfires. In fact, wildfire season is now much longer — more than two months longer — than it used to be. And experts attribute this to extreme heat. In California, some people consider fire season to be year round.
- Cause serious sunburns, marked by skin redness and pain as well as swelling, blisters, fever and headaches. More than simply a dermatological issue, severe sunburn can actually reduce the body’s ability to release excess heat and can foster vulnerability to other heat-related illness.
- Produce heat cramps, which are manifested as painful muscle spasms, usually in the leg and/or abdomen. They are caused by heavy exertion in the heat, which triggers heavy perspiration.
- Result in heat exhaustion, which is a mild form of shock, marked by heavy sweating; weakness; cold, clammy skin; a weak pulse; fainting, and vomiting. This usually occurs when people have been exercising heavily or working in a warm, humid place.
- Bring about heat stroke, marked by a very high body temperature (105 degrees or above) as well as hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing.
- Cut down on exercise and other taxing activities during the hottest parts of the day. But I think it’s always a good time to walk.
- Drink plenty of water. The CDC recommends 2-4 glasses of cool, non-alcoholic liquid every hour. And don’t wait until you are thirsty to start drinking. I drink bowls and bowls of water each day. Helps cut down on water retention.
- If you need to be outdoors, rest in shady areas. And dress in light clothing.
- Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
- If possible, stay indoors. My doghouse needs central air.
- Stay cool but don’t break the bank. Keep your thermostat at 78 degrees during the hottest parts of the day, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Help conserve natural resources. Try not to use major appliances during peak hours — washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and other heavy appliances.
- Close the drapes, shades or blinds to keep the direct sunlight from heating your home.
- Open windows and doors in the morning and evening to help cool your home. I also suggest opening windows in the car.
- Turn off lights and other electrical appliances when not in use.
- Unplug what the CDC calls “energy vampires,” such as DVD players, microwave ovens, cell phone chargers, computers or anything else that draws energy when not in use. Energy vampires seem scary.
- Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans 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.
- Get out of the house during the hottest times of the day. Visit a cool place such as a library, mall or movie theater. It isn’t fair that dogs aren’t allowed in movie theaters.
- Don’t ever, under any circumstances, leave people or pets unattended in hot vehicles. Temperatures soar inside locked vehicles.
- In the workplace, along with air conditioning, preventive measures could include more sustainable options such as shading and changes in building insulation and construction materials.
When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, it saves lives.
We’ve still got several more weeks left of summer sun. Are you taking steps to make sure your family and friends remain sun-safe? Whether you are boating, swimming, lying out in the sun, walking the family pet or barbecuing in the backyard, it’s important to understand the dangers of unprotected exposure to the elements. There are lots of consequences for excessive sun exposure—sunburn, premature aging of the skin and skin cancer, to name a few.
In the Continental United States, the most dangerous time of the day to go outdoors is between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Harmful UV rays damage the skin. So if you are going to spend any time outside this summer, use sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15. Also, make sure the product you buy provides protection from UVA and UVB rays. Ultraviolet radiation is composed of three wavelengths: UVA, UVB and UVC. While UVC isn’t a concern for skin cancer, UVA and UVB play different roles when it comes to tanning, burning and aging. I rely on my fur to keep my skin safe. But unless you’re a canine, you probably need additional coverage to be safe.
The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that: “With the ongoing debate about the best way to get Vitamin D and the controversy surrounding tanning beds, there is a huge amount of misinformation surrounding ultraviolet radiation (UV). However, one thing is clear: UV radiation is the main factor responsible for skin cancers, including Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) and possibly Melanoma. In fact, the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have identified broad spectrum UV as a human carcinogen.” Anything with the word “carcinogen” should be avoided, or so I’m told.
While the differences between UVB and UVA need to be further explored, exposure to the combination of UVB and UVA is a proven, powerful attack on the skin. It can create irreversible damage that ranges from sunburn to premature aging to skin cancer. So protection from these rays is the only way to avoid a myriad of problems.
Did you know that even if you’re using a high-quality sunscreen, you may not be out of the woods? Sunscreen washes off in water and wears off even if you are just lying in the sun. I once tried to apply sunscreen, but it got stuck in my fur and made a mess. Every bottle of sunscreen has an expiration date. So be careful to keep your eye on the pull-date so you won’t use inert lotion. The standard shelf life for lotions and creams is three years. But sunscreen can wear out sooner if it is exposed to high temperatures.
Another way to protect your skin is to wear appropriate clothing (Or you could wear fur. It works for me). Your best bet for sun protection is a lightweight long sleeve shirt and long sleeve pants made from a tightly woven fabric. Research shows that darker colors may provide more protection than lighter ones. A standard, dry T-shirt provides an SPF lower than 15. A better choice altogether is sun-protective clothing.
Hats offer important sun protection. Choose one with a wide brim to shade your face, ears, neck and forehead. For sun safety, the CDC recommends hats or visors made from tightly woven fabric such as canvas. Avoid straw hats which may allow light to filter through. In general, darker hats offer more protection than their lighter colored counterparts.
Another important item for sun safety is a good pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses protect eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. For optimum protection, find a pair that wrap around and offer 100% UV protection. When all else fails and you find yourself unprotected in the sun, head for the shade! Whether you find it with an umbrella or under a tree or the eaves of a building, take cover. I don’t like wearing shades. They cover my best feature, which my wife tells me is my eyes.
And no matter how much you love the look of tan skin, avoid indoor tanning beds. Indoor tanning has been linked with skin cancers including Melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer), Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and cancers of the eye (ocular melanoma). Indoor tanning also causes premature skin aging such as wrinkles and age spots. None of that sounds like fun.
When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.