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How To Stay Safe During The Summer Heat


Courtesy of: The American Red Cross

As the season for vacations, barbecues, and town fairs heats up, folks are in desperate need to cool down. While summer provides people with the wonderful opportunity for various outside activities, we need to still be mindful of the summer heat.  According to Cindy Erickson, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross, “Excessive heat can be deadly; it has caused more deaths in recent years than all other weather events.” In order to beat the heat, these precautionary measures are suggested to have a fun and safe summer.

How to Prepare

  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work and school—and prepare for the possibility of power outages.
  • Check the contents of your emergency preparedness kit in case a power outage occurs.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
  • Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.

What to do During Heat Wave

  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • 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 you must work 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 your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

Recognize and Care for Heat-Related Emergencies

   Heat Cramps

  • Muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

 Heat Exhaustion

  • Typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity.
  • Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy
  • sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
  • Move the person to a cooler place.
  • Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the
  • skin. Fan the person. If the person is 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 (also known as sunstroke)

  • A life-threatening condition in which a person’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself.
  • Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature.
  • Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number
  • immediately.
  • Move the person to a cooler place.
  • Quickly cool the person’s body by giving care as you would for heat exhaustion.
  • If needed, continue rapid cooling by applying ice or cold packs wrapped in a cloth to the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits.

 Know the Difference

  • Excessive Heat Watch— Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
  • Excessive Heat Warning— Heat Index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
  • Heat Advisory— Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).

Sun Protection

Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30. Reapply sunscreen often. Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight. Protect the feet – the sand can burn them and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.

During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If it’s suspected someone is suffering from heat stroke:

  • Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
  • Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person.
  • Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

Download the First Aid App

 Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross first aid app, which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at someone’s fingertips. It offers a great deal of information on preparing for the heat, as well as dealing with heat emergencies. The app is available for direct download from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.


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