How to Stay Safe and Healthy During a Heat Emergency
The weather has been changing all over the world. We are experiencing many changes in climate. One of the obvious problems with this, is that many areas are not equiped to handle the new weather extremes they are experiencing. For example: Homes in predominately warm, sunny climates are built to maintain cool, while homes in predominately cold climates are prepared to retain heat. Insulation and roofing are different. This can cause problems when we get unexpected weather conditions.There are certain steps that can be taken if you find yourself in a heat emergency.
Simple Things you can do to Keep Safe during a Heat Emergency
One of the most simple things you can do is to stay tuned to weather reports and alerts. There are many different ways to do this and with all the social media available, there are no excuses not to stay aware of what's happening. Here are more things you can do:
- Don't go outside if you don't need to.
- Stay hydrated! Make sure you are drinking enough fluids. Drink whether you are thirsty or not.
- Make sure your air conditioner, fans, swamp coolers are properly maintained and in good working order.
- Make sure your car has gas, radiator fluid, ..... coolants. Fluids evaporate very quickly in this heat
- Keep a supply of drinking water in your car and your home.
- Do not drink a lot of alcohol. It can dehydrate you.
Stay in and Watch an Oldie but Goody!
I live in the East Valley of Arizona where heat emergencies can happen often. I have been here for four years. Having spent most of my life in Chicago, I was thrilled and excited to be living in this warm and sunny state. Nothing could have prepared me for the intense heat here, though. Temperatures reach over 100 degrees farenheight for an average of 110 days beginning as early as March and ending as late as October (talk about Indian Summer!) Sandwiched in between June and August, you will find an average of 19 days over 110 degrees! Those are the killers....literally.
Why talk about a heat emergency?
We often don't deal with emergencies until we are faced with them. Once we are faced with them, we are not always in the correct frame of mind to make a sensible decision. Just like having fire drills, disaster and storm drills, being forewarned is being forearmed. We may not have control over the weather but we most certainly can have control over how we respond to it.
Who is at Risk in a Heat Emergency?
Everyone is at risk but certain people are a higher risk. Young children and the elderly, as well as overweight and people with serious health problems are more prone to complications from extreme heat. There are also certain medications that don't mix well with heat. You should exercise more caution if they need to be away from an air-conditioned environment.
Different Signs of Heat Illness.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Rapid, shallow breathing
cool, moist skin
rapid, shallow pulse
nausea or vomiting
fever over 104 degrees
What can you do if Someone is Showing Signs of Heat Illness?
- Lay them down in a cool place.
- Elevate their feet
- Apply cool, wet cloths to their skin to lower the body temperature.
- Apply cool, wet compresses to their neck, armpits and groin.
- If they are alert enough, you can give them sips of a beverage like Gatorade or even better, you can give them sips of salted water. (one teaspoon of salt per quart of water) If you don't have any of these, you can give them plain water. They should be asble to drink about a half a cup every fifteen minutes.
- You can gently massage any muscle cramps they are experiencing.
- If they are showing signs of shock, loss of consciousness or seizures, call 911 immediately.