Heat Emergencies

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Read this section for info you need today.

Danger: Heat Stroke and related dangers cause deaths across the US every year (see map).

Risk Factors: Infants, elderly, socially isolated, underlying illness, lack of air conditioning, physical exertion.

When to get help: Seek medical care when these conditions occur in a high heat situation – nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headache, muscle cramps and aches, and dizziness.

When to call 911: Symptoms that may indicate a life-threatening emergency include high body temperature, the absence of sweating with hot red or flushed dry skin, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, strange behavior, hallucinations, confusion, agitation, disorientation, seizure, and/or coma.

A team member or customer at risk may not want help.  Don’t guess!  Call 911 and let the experts determine what to do.

Heat Emergencies

Temperatures are beginning to climb again. Are you prepared for heat emergencies?

Heat can affect anyone. It is most likely to affect young children, elderly people, and people with health problems. Heat illnesses can cause three types of health challenges: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke (also referred to as sunstroke).

Heat stroke (or sunstroke) is the most serious heat emergency. The body loses its ability to regulate its own temperature. Classic heat stroke patients may show one or all of these signs: rapid pulse, high temperature and a lack of perspiration. It is life threatening. A person suffering from heat stroke requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 and move the person to a cooler place immediately. Immerse the person in a cool bath or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If they refuses water, are vomiting, or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give them anything to eat or drink.

At Home: Learn More

Be Ready in your Community

These are very serious conditions. Now that you know what can happen, here are some ways that you can protect yourself and your family from heat emergencies:

  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect away some of the sun’s energy.
  • Drink plenty of water/fluids regularly even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Do not underestimate the seriousness of heat illness especially if the effected is a child, is elderly, or is injured.

Monitor Those at High Risk

Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.

  • Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.
  • People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and respond to change in temperature.
  • People who are overweight may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat.
  • People who overexert during work or exercise may become dehydrated and susceptible to heat sickness.
  • People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation, may be affected by extreme heat.

Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.

Adjust to the Environment

Be aware that any sudden change in temperature, such as an early summer heat wave, will be stressful to your body. You will have a greater tolerance for heat if you limit your physical activity until you become accustomed to the heat. If you travel to a hotter climate, allow several days to become acclimated before attempting any vigorous exercise, and work up to it gradually.

Do Not Leave Children in Cars

Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. Anyone left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death. Children who are left unattended in parked cars are at greatest risk for heat stroke, and possibly death. When traveling with children, remember to do the following:

  • Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
  • When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.

Learn more: http://www.ready.gov/heat

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Posted in Preparedness, Safety Tips
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