In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity. Generally temperatures are 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region during summer months, last for a long period of time, and occur with high humidity as well.
There are three different excessive heat weather condition warnings:
Excessive Heat Watch - Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to72 hours.
Excessive Heat Warning - Heat Index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime temperatures =100 - 105º Fahrenheit).
Heat Advisory - Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (day time highs =100-105º F.)
To prepare for these situations, listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes. The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined. Exposure to direct sunlight can increase the heat index by as much as 15º F.
Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help. People living in more urban areas are at greater risk than people living in rural areas. Ensure your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.
- Never leave children or pets alone in an enclosed vehicle.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid caffeine or alcohol.
- Eat small meals often.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Wear loose fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
- Take frequent breaks if you are working outside.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who may not have air conditioning.
- Check on your animals frequently to make sure they are not suffering from the heat.
Heat Related Illnesses
There are two major types of heat related illnesses Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
If heat exhaustion is left untreated it can lead to heat stroke. Although both conditions are serious, heat stroke is a major medical emergency! The critical thing to do is get the victim’s body temperature cooled down. Heat stroke can lead to death.
- Heat cramps - Muscle pains and spasms are usually the first sign that the body is having trouble with the heat. They usually occur in the legs and abdomen.
- Heat Exhaustion - usually involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity.
- Cool, clammy, or pale skin
- Light-headed or dizzy
- Racing Heart
- Very thirsty or heavy sweating sometimes
- Heat Stroke - also known as sun stroke, is a life-threatening condition in which the body’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself.
- Very hot, red skin may be dry or moist
- Changes in consciousness, confusion, drowsiness
- Rapid breathing and rapid heart rate
- Convulsions, passes out or slips into a coma
What to Do
- Get victim to a cool or shady place and rest.
- Lightly stretch or massage muscles to relieve cramps.
- Loosen clothing around waist and neck to improve circulation and remove sweaty clothes.
- Cool down victim’s body using wet cloths on victim’s face, neck and skin. Change frequently. If outdoors, use a hose or stream. Get into an air conditioned place.
- If victim refuses water, pukes or starts to pass out call 9-1-1.
- Put victim on their side and keep airway open.
- Keep cooling with water or ice; use fans to increase evaporative cooling.
- Check victim’s ABC’s - airway, breathing & circulation.
- Stay with victim until help arrives.
Remember Heat Stroke is a medical emergency and can cause the victim to slip into a coma - getting a victim’s body temperature cooled down is more important than getting fluids in their body! The first 60 minutes of treatment are critical to avoid organ damage. Recovery may take from 2 - 12 months depending on the extent of overheating damage.
Dave Reed Insurance, the Peace of Mind People®, cares about our customers. Feel free to contact us with any insurance need at (888) 600-7333.
- It’s a Disaster! By Bill & Janet Liebsch (www.itsadisaster.net)