Prepare For a Heatwave
Heat is the number one weather-related killer. Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.
Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.
Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the "urban heat island effect."
A heat wave is an extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening for humans who don't take the proper precautions.
Extreme Heat Preparedness Checklist
Stay Safe During the Heat
The Red Cross recommends taking these steps to stay safe during the heat:
Source: RedCross.org and Ready.gov
First Aid For Heat-Related Illness
|Sunburn||Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches||- Take a shower using soap to remove oils that may block pores, preventing the body from cooling naturally.
- Apply dry, sterile dressings to any blisters, and get medical attention.
|Heat Cramps||Painful spasms, usually in leg and abdominal muscles; heavy sweating||- Get the victim to a cooler location.
- Lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles to relieve spasms.
- Give sips of up to a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. (Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol.)
- Discontinue liquids, if victim is nauseated.
|Heat Exhaustion||Heavy sweating but skin may be cool, pale, or flushed. Weak pulse. Normal body temperature is possible, but temperature will likely rise. Fainting or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and headaches are possible.||- Get victim to lie down in a cool place.
- Loosen or remove clothing.
- Apply cool, wet clothes.
- Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place.
- Give sips of water if victim is conscious.
- Be sure water is consumed slowly.
- Give half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.
- Discontinue water if victim is nauseated.
- Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.
|Heat Stroke (a severe medical emergency)||High body temperature (105+); hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid shallow breathing. Victim will probably not sweat unless victim was sweating from recent strenuous activity. Possible unconsciousness.||- Call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services, or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
- Move victim to a cooler environment.
- Removing clothing
- Try a cool bath, sponging, or wet sheet to reduce body temperature.
- Watch for breathing problems.
- Use extreme caution.
- Use fans and air conditioners.