The days of summer are upon us and your local American Red Cross is offering some cool tips – plus a cold bottle of water.
Excessive heat can be deadly. A study released 6/6/2013 in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that 7,233 heat-related deaths occurred in the United States from 1999 to 2009. An analysis of 2012 data indicates that deaths are on the rise. In a 2-week period in 2012, excessive heat exposure resulted in 32 deaths in four states, four times the typical average for those states for the same 2-week period from 1999-2009. More than two thirds of the deaths (69 percent) occurred at home, and 91 percent of those homes lacked air conditioning. Most of those who died were unmarried or living alone, and 72 percent were male. (CDC Online Newsroom 2013)
We want everyone to stay safe during the hot weather and have some reminders for them to follow when the weather is hot and humid.
Anyone can drop in at one of the six offices of the Southern Missouri Region to beat the heat, where visitors can relax with a cold bottle of water during the heat of the day. Offices are available as cooling centers during normal business hours unless they’re needed by a special request from any of our Offices of Emergency Management throughout the Region. Chapter sites include Joplin, Nevada, Springfield, West Plains, Van Buren and Cape Girardeau.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 400 Americans die each year due to summer’s sweltering heat. In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including tornadoes, floods and hurricanes.
Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees; and the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended.
Here are some important tips for facing down the heat without getting all red:
NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN, PETS IN THE CAR, the inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Other heat safety steps include:
§ Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
§ Avoid extreme temperature changes.
§ Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
§ Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
§ Postpone outdoor games and activities.
§ Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
§ Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
§ Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
§ If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
HEAT EXHAUSTION Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.
If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
HEAT STROKE IS LIFE-THREATENING. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. You should call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.
For more information on what to do when temperatures rise, people can visit redcross.org, download the Red Cross Heat Wave Safety Checklist, or download the free Red Cross First Aid. The app is available for iPhone and Android smart phone and tablet users in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. People can learn how to treat heat-related and other emergencies by taking First Aid and CPR/AED training online or in person. Go to redcross.org/takeaclass for information and to register.