Learn how to properly prepare for and protect yourself and your loved ones from soaring temperatures by following these basic safety tips:
- During the hottest hours of the day – typically from mid-morning to mid-afternoon – stay inside. If possible, stay inside an air-conditioned building.
- Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids. When temperatures climb above 90 degrees, it's important to drink at least a gallon of liquid per day, preferably water. Those who are overweight and in humid conditions need even more.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and beverages that are carbonated or contain caffeine, as they can lead to dehydration.
- Keep blinds and curtains closed from morning until the late afternoon to block extra direct heat from sunlight.
- Never leave a person or a pet in the car in hot conditions while you run to do a quick errand. When overheated, cars become like ovens. It’s never safe.
- Use small appliances like slow cookers and tabletop grills rather than your traditional oven or stove to keep kitchen heat to a minimum.
- Verify that seat belts and car seat restraints are not too hot before buckling yourself or anyone else into a car.
- If you become nauseous, start vomiting or experience cramps, seek medical care right away.
Recognizing Heat-Related Health Problems
Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, occur when your body can’t keep itself cool. It's important to know how to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat exposure. Heat exhaustion signs will appear first, and then heat stroke signs.
The signs of HEAT EXHAUSTION may include the following:
- Shallow and fast breathing
- Clammy skin
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Loss of color in skin
- Pale complexion
- Fast heartbeat
- Skin that feels moist and cool (when touched)
- Heavy sweating
- Feeling weak and/or confused
If you see any of the above exhaustion signs, get out of the heat immediately. The person experiencing symptoms should be given plenty of cool fluids and be wiped down with cool cloths. If rapid improvement isn't seen within 30 minutes, call 911.
The signs of HEAT STROKE include the following:
- Extremely high body temperature (over 103 degrees F)
- Throbbing headache
- Lack of sweating
- Strong, rapid pulse
- Red skin that is hot and dry (when touched)
Heat stroke always requires medical attention. If you see any of the above exposure signs, get the person out of the heat immediately and take them to the nearest hospital or call 911.
This article first appeared in the July 2015 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.