Beat the Heat!
Summer brings fun in the sun, but it also brings certain risks. During hot weather months, special attention needs to be given to the Apparent Temperature, which is a combination of air temperature and relative humidity. Most people will be uncomfortable when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees. In order to avoid this discomfort and possible medical emergencies, outside activities should be carefully considered when temperatures are predicted to exceed 85 degrees.
Why You Might Be At Risk
Everyone is at risk for heat-related illnesses in the hot summer months, but you may be at heightened risk if you are taking medications. Many classes of drugs, whether prescribed or over-the-counter, predispose their users to heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke (a medical emergency). Among heat-interacting medications are antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, and diuretics.
What You Can Do
- Drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids.
- Limit your outside activities when the temperatures are predicted to exceed 85 degrees.
- Learn the Heat-Related Terms listed on the back of this sheet, and Take Action and Get Help immediately if you notice any signs on heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke in yourself or others.
Know What These Heat-Related Terms Mean:
Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are an early signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke. Signals of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
Heat stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high—sometimes as high as 105ºF.
General Care for Heat Emergencies:
Heat cramps or heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. If the person is fully awake and alert, give half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.
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.