Summer Heat Safety...
Ready For The Heat
Know What These Terms
- Heat wave: prolonged
period of excessive heat and humidity. The National Weather Service steps up
its procedures to alert the public during these periods of excessive heat
- Heat index: A number in
degrees Fahrenheit that tells how hot it really feels when relative humidity
is added to the actual air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can
increase the heat index by 15 degrees F.
- Heat cramps: Heat cramps
are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. They usually involve
the abdominal muscles or legs. It is generally thought that the loss of
water from heavy sweating causes the cramps.
- Heat exhaustion: Heat
exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm
humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to
the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This
resultsin a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim's condition will
worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer
- Heatstroke: Heatstroke is
life-threatening. The victim's temperature control system, which produces
sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so
high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled
- Sunstroke: Another term
If a Heat Wave Is Predicted or Happening...
- Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous
activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the
morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.
- Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not
available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Remember, electric
fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate, which cools your
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect
away some of the sun's energy.
- Drink plenty of water regularly and often. Your body needs water to
- Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Water is the
safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or
caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat's
effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which
actually dehydrates the body.
- Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in
protein, which increase metabolic heat.
- Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
Signals of Heat Emergencies...
- Heat exhaustion: Cool,
moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting;
dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
- Heatstroke: hot, red
skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow
breathing. Body temperature can be very high--sometimes as high as 105
degrees F. If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may
be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry.
Treatment of Heat Emergencies...
- Heat cramps: Get the
person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position.
Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids. Give a half-glass
of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine
in them, as they can make conditions worse.
- Heat exhaustion: Get the
person out of the heat and into a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight
clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. If the person
is conscious, give cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly.
Give a half-glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids that
contain alcohol or caffeine. Let the victim rest in a comfortable position,
and watch carefully for changes in his or her condition.
- Heatstroke: Heatstroke is
a life-threatening situation. Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local
emergency number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body.
Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan
it. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and
continue to cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water, is
vomiting, or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give
anything to eat or drink.