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How to handle heat emergencies | Health

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How to handle heat emergencies
Health
How to handle heat emergencies

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. While Arkansans are used to hot summers, the recent weeks of temperatures with heat indies in the triple digits, has been a stamina test for most.  Now, with the addition of air temperatures exceeding 100 degrees forecast for the week, additional attention is asked for what could be life threatening heat related concerns.

With an understanding that illness caused by too much heat or too much activity in the sun can be easily dismissed, as the person being affected may be unaware they are nearing points of concern, the following signals and care for heat conditions are as follows:

Signals of Heat Emergencies...

  • Heat exhaustion: Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
  • Heat stroke: Hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high-- as high as 105 degrees F. If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry.

 

Treatment of Heat Emergencies

  • Heat cramps: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse.
  • Heat exhaustion: Get the person out of the heat and into a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. If the person is conscious, give cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Let the victim rest in a comfortable position, and watch carefully for changes in his or her condition.
  • Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water or is vomiting or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.

Your American Red Cross Greater Arkansas Chapter encourages you to be aware of tips to keep you and those around you safe and well to enjoy the weekend:

  • Slow down and avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity outdoors, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Try to go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours. Remember, electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate, which cools your body.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly and often. Your body needs water to keep cool.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat's effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which dehydrates the body.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
  • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

For more tips on being prepared for heat waves and other emergencies, visit www.arkansasredcross.org  and click Be Prepared.

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