It’s the First Day of Summer

Welcome to the first day of Summer!  June Solstice in Fort Smith officially took place at 12:04am this morning.  This yearly event happens when the sun reaches its furthest point from the equator and its northernmost point and our North Pole tilts directly towards the sun, at about 23.5 degrees.  This day will give us the longest hours of daylight for the year and officially begins our “Summer”.

Of course, with the summer season, we also begin feeling our hottest days of the year, and we remind everyone to continually be aware of heat related illnesses…

Heat Cramps – Heat Cramps is a condition that is marked by sudden development of cramps in skeletal muscles and that result from prolonged work or exercise in high temperatures accompanied by profuse perspiration (sweat) with loss of sodium chloride (salt) from the body. Cramps are often the very first sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

When heat cramps occur:
– Get to a cooler place
– Rest in a comfortable position
– Lightly stretch muscles
– Drink water every 15 minutes

Heat Exhaustion –  Heat Exhaustion is a condition marked by weakness, nausea, dizziness, and profuse sweating that results from physical exertion in a hot environment. Blood flow to skin increases, while blood flow to vital organs decreases. Heat exhaustion can cause a form of mild shock. If not treated, the condition will get worse, the body temperature will keep rising, and heat stroke may occur.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion
–  Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin
– Heavy sweating
– Headache, nausea, or vomiting
– Dizziness
– Exhaustion
– Body temperature may be normal but most likely will be rising

When heat exhaustion occurs
–  Get the person to a cooler place
– Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool wet cloths
– If conscious give cool water to drink every 15 minutes
– Rest in a comfortable position and watch carefully for changes in condition

Heat Stroke –  Heatstroke (also called Sunstroke) is a life threatening condition marked especially by cessation of sweating, extremely high body temperature, and collapse that result from prolonged exposure to high temperature. A heat stroke victim’s temperature control system stops working and cannot produce sweat to cool the body. Brain damage and death will result if the body temperature continues to rise and the body is not cooled quickly. If you suspect Heatstroke call 911 or your local emergency number immediately and move the person to a cooler place– help is needed fast!

Signs of Heatstroke
–  Hot, red skin
– Changes in consciousness
– Rapid, weak pulse
– Rapid, shallow breathing
– Body temperature as high as 105
– If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise it will feel dry.

How to protect your health during extreme heat:
–  NEVER leave children, pets, or others alone in closed vehicles – Within minutes, the temperature inside a car can reach over 140 degrees F, which can kill.
– Slow down, and avoid strenuous activity. Even the healthiest people may be overpowered if they perform strenuous work outside during the heat of the day.
– Avoid too much sunshine, and postpone outdoor activities and games
– Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty
– Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which promote water loss
– Avoid extreme temperature changes, such as a taking a cool shower immediately after coming inside from hot temperatures
– If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a public building every day for several hours
– If you have to work outside, take frequent breaks, rest in the shade, and drink plenty of water.
– Dress for the weather: Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, lightly-colored clothing – Lightweight, lightly-colored clothing reflects heat and helps maintain normal body temperature
– If you must be outside, cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn
– Protect your neck, face and head with a wide-brimmed hat

Plan for extreme heat by developing a survival plan
–  Contact your local emergency management office, National Weather Service office, or the American Red Cross for assistance in developing your plan.
– Share and discuss your extreme heat survival plan with your family.
– The Arkansas Department of Health will issue heat alerts when temperatures reach dangerous levels.  Keep checking this website for those alerts and stay informed.
– If your home is not air-conditioned, make alternate plans ahead of time in case of a heat wave. Choose other places you may go to get relief from the heat during the hottest part of the day such as schools, libraries, theaters or other community facilities
– Plan to change your daily activities to avoid strenuous work during the hottest part of the day.
– Some medications and medical conditions reduce ones ability to tolerate heat. Discuss these concerns with your doctor.
– Plan to check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning or who spend much of their time home alone.
– Plan to wear lightweight, lightly colored clothing. Dark clothing absorbs heat.
– Get Training – take a first aid course to learn what to do during heat emergencies and other emergencies

Everyone enjoy a fun, but safe summer in the Arkansas River Valley!