Summer heat information
Types of heat stress. Heat Stoke? Heat Exhaustion? Recommendations from the CDC to help keep you safe:
Elderly people (people aged 65 years and older) are more prone to heat stress than younger people for several reasons:
High temperatures combined with high humidity levels have the potential to cause health problems for residents of Grayson County during the summer. Tips from the American Red Cross can help people avoid becoming ill – or worse – from the annual heat that occurs in this area.
The best thing people who are in the heat can do to avoid becoming ill is to drink plenty of water. TLRMC gets people in the ER who have become overheated and when asked what they have had to drink they will often tell us they have been drinking soft drinks or other drinks with caffeine. The best thing to be drinking is water.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 400 Americans die each year due to summer’s sweltering heat. Furthermore, the National Weather Service asserts that excessive heat was the number one weather-related killer, causing more fatalities per year than floods, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and extreme cold from 1994 to 2003.
While everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, the elderly and the young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses. It is also harder on people with existing health conditions. The heat combined with the humidity is especially hard on people with lung conditions such as asthma and COPD.
For the young, doctors stress the importance of using sunscreen and to monitor their activities and their intake of fluids. Kids will run around all day and not realize how hot they are. Adults need to make kids take breaks to cool off and drink plenty of water which is better for them than soft drinks and other drinks with a lot of sugar in them. Sunscreen can help prevent sun burns which for children is especially important. Children who get sun burns are at an increased likelihood of developing skin cancer when they are adults.
The other tip health professionals would like to pass along is to let someone know if you are going to be out in the heat. There have been many cases where someone got sick out in the heat and weren’t able to get help in time to avoid real problems. This is an especially important tip for farmers.
According to the American Red Cross, heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended. Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches. Victims of heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin. If a victim refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.
Red Cross Heat Safety Tips:
Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.
Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 and 7 a.m.
Stay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do not cool, they simply circulate the air.
Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on elderly residents in your neighborhood and those who do not have air conditioning.
Learn Red Cross first aid and CPR.
Know What These Heat-Related Terms Mean
Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are an early signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke. Signals of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
Heat stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high—sometimes as high as 105 degrees.
General Care for Heat Emergencies:
Heat cramps or heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. If the person is fully awake and alert, give half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. Call 9-1-1 immediately if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 immediately. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water or is vomiting or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.