Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. On average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. When the body heats too quickly to cool itself safely, or when you lose too much fluid or salt through dehydration or sweating, your body temperature rises and heat-related illness may develop.
Heat Disorder Symptoms Heat Cramps
Painful spasms usually in the muscles of legs and abdomen with heavy sweating.
First Aid: Firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue water.
Heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, clammy skin; thready pulse; fainting and vomiting but may have normal temperature.
First Aid: Get victim out of sun. Once inside, the person should lie down and loosen his or her clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan or move victim to air conditioned room. Offer sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue water. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.
Heat Stroke (or Sunstroke)
High body temperature (106° F or higher), hot dry skin, rapid and strong pulse, possible unconsciousness.
First Aid: Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Summon emergency medical assistance or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal. While waiting for emergency assistance, move the victim to a cooler environment reduce body temperature with cold bath or sponging. Use extreme caution. Remove clothing, use fans and air conditioners. If temperature rises again, repeat process. Do NOT give fluids. Persons on salt restrictive diets should consult a physician before increasing their salt intake.
Redness and pain. In severe cases swelling of skin, blisters, fever, headaches.
First Aid: Ointments for mild cases if blisters appear and do not break. If breaking occurs, apply dry sterile dressing. Serious, extensive cases should be seen by physician.
Children Left in Hot Cars - Hyperthermia
Each year, dozens of children left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia.
Hyperthermia is an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day. Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults.
Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.
Child Safety Tips
Always lock car doors and trunks--even at home--and keep keys out of children's reach.
Always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination. Don't leave sleeping infants in the car ever!
Make sure your child's safety seat and safety belt buckles aren't too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.
Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.
Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars.
Adult Heat Wave Safety Tips
Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
Don't get too much sun. Sunburn reduces your body's ability to dissipate heat.
Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease, are on fluid restrictive diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids. Do not drink alcoholic beverages and limit caffeinated beverages.
During excessive heat periods, spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, go to a library, store or other location with air conditioning for part of the day.
Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods, like meat and other proteins that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.