Extreme heat can be dangerous, but heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable.
With rising temperatures, it’s important to remember to keep safety first. Here are some tips to help you beat the heat this summer:
- Stay hydrated. If you are outside, you should consume 16-32 oz. of water per hour .
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing .
- Stay inside during the day; limit outdoor activity to the morning or evening .
- If you do not have air conditioning, visit air-conditioned buildings such as malls, movie theaters or libraries.
- Elderly people (65 years and older), infants and children, and people with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat stress. Check on elderly neighbors and family members to make sure they are okay.
- Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
During heat waves people are susceptible to three heat-related conditions — heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Here’s how to recognize and respond to them.
These muscular pains and spasms usually occur in the legs or abdomen, and are an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat. To treat, move the person to a cooler place and have him rest in a comfortable position while lightly stretching and/or massaging the affected area. Drinking an electrolyte-rich beverage, such as a sports drink or fruit juice, may also help. DO NOT give the person salt tablets.
Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion. To treat, move the person to a cooler place with circulating air. Remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths to the skin. Fanning or spraying the person with water also can help. Drinking an electrolyte-rich beverage, such as a sports drink or fruit juice, may also help. Give about 4 oz. of fluid every 15 minutes.
Get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
This life-threatening condition usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning, and is indicated by extremely high body temperature, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; and seizures.
Seek medical help immediately, and use rapid cooling methods until they arrive. These methods include immersing the person up to the neck in cold water, if possible OR douse or spray the person with cold water; sponging the person with ice water-doused towels over the entire body, frequently rotating the cold, wet towels; or covering the person with bags of ice.
Those who need help finding an air conditioner or securing financial aid to pay energy bills should contact the United Way from a landline phone at 2-1-1.
Cool Down St. Louis can also offer some help. For more information, call (314) 241-7668 or visit www.cooldownstlouis.org.