IN & KY Residents: Protect Yourself from Heatstroke with These Tips
With ridiculously high temperatures and insane heat indexes on tap for this week, now is a good time to brush up on heat safety to ensure that you, your loved ones, and your pets stay safe.
A Wall Of Heat
When I stepped out my front door this morning it was like walking into a wall of heat. I immediately let out an audible gasp, followed by an "ew," just to make sure Mother Nature knew I was unimpressed by her sudden decision to turn up the furnace in the middle of June.
Obviously, I was not in the least bit surprised when I walked into the office this morning and opened my laptop that we are under a heat advisory for the majority of the week. With temperatures in the upper 90s for most of the week and high humidity, the heat index is expected to reach or exceed 110 degrees.
With temperatures this high and heat indexes in the triple digits, safety should be everyone's primary concern, especially for those who work outside and those who are more susceptible to the effect of the heat like young children and the elderly.
There are a number of heat-related illnesses and symptoms to be on the lookout for during periods of extreme heat from less serious issues like heat rash or heat cramps to the more serious heat stroke which can cause the body's internal core temperature to reach life-threatening heights.
Staying Safe - Prevention and Treatment
The biggest preventative measure during periods of extreme heat obviously is to avoid exposure if at all possible, but understandably, that is not always an option. So what can you do to avoid heat-related illness and what do you do if the heat gets the better of you?
Those Most at Risk
While anyone can find themselves faced with heat-related illness, there are some people who are simply more vulnerable to succumbing to the heat. According to the National Weather Service, children, the elderly, those with chronic diseases, and pregnant women are at the highest risk.
- Young children and infants are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illness and death, as their bodies are less able to adapt to heat than are adults.
- Older adults, particularly those with pre existing diseases, take certain medications, are living alone or with limited mobility who are exposed to extreme heat can experience multiple adverse effects.
- People with chronic medical conditions are more likely to have a serious health problem during a heat wave than healthy people.
- Pregnant women are also at higher risk. Extreme heat events have been associated with adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant mortality, as well as congenital cataracts.
Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
Preventing heat-related illness should be the primary goal when temperatures reach extreme highs. Some ways you can do that, according to Ready.gov include,
Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing
If you’re outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face
Avoid high-energy activities or work outdoors, during midday heat, if possible
If You Must Be Outside
If you must be outside, be sure that you are taking frequent breaks and that you are hydrating. If you are sweating excessively, the addition of electrolytes to your fluid intake will help as well. The CDC offers some good tips about staying hydrated in extreme heat.
- Stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks—these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
- Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
- Replace Salt and Minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
Staying Safe Indoors
You may not realize it but you will want to take some precautions for your home as well when temperatures start creeping up into dangerous territory outside. According to the American Red Cross, You can cover your windows with heavy curtains or shades and weather-strip your doors and windows to help keep excess heat out of your home and minimize the strain on your air conditioner.
What If You Don't Have Air Conditioning At Home?
In the event that you don't have air conditioning or perhaps your air conditioning goes out because of the high heat, here are some things you can do to stay safe at home from the American Red Cross.
- Contact a nearby neighbor, friend or relative who has air conditioning.
- Check to see if shopping malls or public libraries are open.
- Find out if your community plans to open public cooling centers*
*in Evansville, there is a public Cooling Center located downtown at the C K Newsome Community Center that will be open from 8 am - 5 pm.
Four Your Pets
Be sure that you are providing plenty of fresh water for your pets as they are susceptible to heat-related illnesses too. You may want to avoid excess time outdoors for your four-legged friends as well to reduce exposure to high temps and of course, never leave your pets inside of a vehicle. If you see an animal in distress contact your area animal control or dial 911.
A Few Final Things to Stay Safe
With the increased temperatures and high heat index, now is a really good time to check on your neighbors. It is also the perfect time to put a plan into place for future occurrences of heat advisories to keep you and your family safe.
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