Heat safety tips
It may have taken a while to get here, but now that the warmer weather has, it’s a good time to remember some heat safety tips. Let’s start with our cars. We drive to work, park the car, go into an air conditioned building and emerge some 8 or so hours later to find an oven waiting for us in the parking lot. Fortunately, most have air conditioned cars now to cool things down in those first few minutes. But think about when we need to run a few short, quick errands. Maybe we have the dog with us or our aging Mom who wants to go for a ride. She can’t get in and out of the car easily so we agree to let her sit in the car while we run in and out of stores and stops. But here’s the thing, with the sun bearing down on a car – even on a mild day, it only takes two minutes to get to an unhealthy temperature.
The National Weather Service has a great website that shows elapsed time and heat’s effects on the inside of a car. With an outside temp of 80 degrees, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of the car to reach 99 degrees. So think twice before you bring anyone with you to run errands who may be staying in the car.
Heat problems also come from within our own bodies. When the body get overheated, lots of health issues can arise. During hot and humid weather, our bodies’ abilities to cool down are naturally challenged. Add a bad sunburn that in itself raises one’s body heat and now it’s even more complicated. If the body heats too rapidly to cool itself properly, one can possibly experience a heat-related illness. Likewise, if you don’t drink plenty of water, particularly to replace fluids lost from sweating, it can be a set up for a problem. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke are just some of the consequences of dehydration or loss of fluids due to excessive sweating, or overheating the body. Would you recognize the symptoms?
Heat cramps are spasms in the legs and abdomen and are usually accompanied by heavy sweating as well. Best way to deal with these is to gently massage to relive the spasm and drink sips of water. If the person complains of nausea, stop giving water.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, fast, weak pulse, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, fainting, possible muscle cramps and cool, pale, clammy skin. Treat my moving to a cooler environment and lay person down and loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible and offer sips of water. Medical attention should be sough if the person is vomiting more than once.
Heat stroke has more extensive symptoms including altered mental state, rapid and strong pulse, fainting and losing consciousness, and any one of the following – throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness or shallow breathing. This is a very serious level of heat problems and the person should either be brought immediately to the hospital or 911 call. While waiting for this, reduce the body temperature with cool cloths.
When it’s hot, drink plenty of fluids. Use good sense about exercise and overexerting the body. Keep your body cool by staying within air conditioned environments, under the shade, or refreshed by cool cloths.