Friday, July 12, 2013


By Terry Orr

The Dog Days of Summer are in full swing – new record highs have already been recently established – 124 out west – Hot, Hazy and Humid here in Washington, DC. It is time once again – to refresh our minds on the does and don’ts in dealing with the heat. Lets start by following OSHA’s link to read this informative and helpful fact sheet – recommend that you print it and put with your other health and preparedness material.

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.

Heat Related Conditions

Heat Disorder
First Aid
Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches.
Take a shower, using soap, to remove cells that may block pores preventing the body from cooling naturally.  If blisters occur, apply dry, sterile dressings and get medical attention.
Heat Syncope (Fainting)
Light-headedness, dizziness and or fainting.
Sit or lie down in cool place when they begin to feel symptoms. Slowly drink water, clear juice, or a sports beverage.
Heat Cramps
Painful spasms usually in legs and abdominal muscles.  Heavy sweating.
Firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasm.  Give sips of water.  If nausea occurs, discontinue.
Heat Exhaustion
Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy. Week pulse. Normal temperature possible. Fainting, vomiting.
Get victim to lie down in a cool place.  Loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue. If vomiting occurs, seek immediate medical attention.
Heat Stroke (Sun Stroke)
High body temperature (106+). Hot, dry skin. Rapid, strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness. Victim will likely not sweat.
Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call 9-1-1 or emergency medical service or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal. Move victim to cooler environment. Try a cool bath or sponging to reduce body temperature.  Use extreme caution. Remove clothing. Use fans and/or air conditioners. DO NOT GIVE FLUIDS.

Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. During conditions of extreme heat, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, public libraries, or public health sponsored heat-relief shelters in your area.
Get informed. Listen to local news and weather channels or contact your local public health department during extreme heat conditions for health and safety updates
Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages and increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level.

Workers at risk of heat stress include outdoor workers and workers in hot environments such as firefighters, bakery workers, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers, factory workers, and others. Workers at greater risk of heat stress include those who are 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat.

Here are the links to our previous two articles on Heat – Beating the Heat: Preventing Heat Exhaustion and Stroke and Heat Stroke – plus a link to CDC’s information on Heat Stress.

Beating the Heat: Preventing Heat Exhaustion & Stroke

(Photos from Google) 

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