Tips to Avoid Heat Related Illness and Death!

Excessive heat can be quite uncomfortable and DEADLY here in the Arkansas River Valley region!  When the combination of hot temperatures and high humidity combine, the two create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are possible.

Those in the heat warned areas are urged to take extra precautions if they work or spend time outside. When possible…reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the occupational safety and health administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency…call 911.

Keeping the skin cool:

– Wear light colored clothing. It reflects the sun’s radiation (and heat) away from your body, while dark colored clothing actually absorbs the heat.
– Take a lukewarm shower just before you hit the sack. A lot of people would naturally think a cold shower at bedtime would do the trick…but your body actually generates more heat after a cold shower, working to make up for the previous loss of heat.
– Run cold water over your wrists for a few seconds every couple of hours. This helps to cool the blood through a main vein which passes through the wrist area.
– Wet a towel, cool it down in the fridge, then wrap it around your neck as you work. Better yet, use TWO towels…have a second cooling down while you use the other.
– Women who like to use moisturizers might want to switch to one of those aloe vera after sun lotions or gels, as these tend to cool down the skin better. Morning and night application can make life much more bearable in the heat.
– Of course, you’ve probably already done away with that warm comforter and opted for just a sheet over the bed. But you can make “falling to sleep” even easier if you throw those sheets into the refrigerator a couple of hours before bedtime. Just place them in a plastic bag to keep them from getting moist in the fridge.
– Eat more often, but in smaller amounts. Larger meals create more metabolic heat from the extra work it takes your body to break down the food. Food that is high in protein can also increase your metabolic heat, so that’s also something to avoid.
– You would never think that eating “spicy food” would help keep you cooler, but chillies, peppers, and curries help circulation of the blood…and MAKE YOU SWEAT, cooling down the body greatly!
– Most people know to avoid alcoholic drinks in hot weather, as beer, wine, & liquor dehydrates the body. What some may NOT know is that caffeine filled drinks, such as soft drinks and coffee, also increase the metabolic heat in your body, making things just a big less comfortable. Plain old COOL WATER is always a win win in any season!
– Reserve all work and exercise as possible to the early morning hours, which is usually the cooler part of the day. Strenuous activity stimulates the body, raising the temperature inside.
– Be sure to check to make sure curtains in the home are closed so the sun doesn’t turn your home into a greenhouse. And, just as in clothing, lighter colored curtains will tend to reflect the heat, while darker will just absorb it making it even hotter inside.
– Take advantage of the cooler parts of the home. Rearrange your living so you can even close off those “window rooms” on the south side of you home which act as a greenhouse and generate heat for the remaining part. Consider utilizing that basement you maybe even forgot you had. The temperature in most homes’ basements is usually ten to fifteen degrees cooler than the rest of the house.
– Another Warning! Keeping cool will not only help you feel more comfortable…it may even save your life!

“Heat Stroke” occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. People who are at highest risk of heat related illnesses are the elderly, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases.

Always be aware of these symptoms of heat stroke:
– An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
– Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
– Rapid, strong pulse
– Throbbing headache
– Dizziness
– Nausea

If you see any signs of severe heat stress, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the affected person. Do the following:
– Get the person to a shady area.
– Cool the person rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the person in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the person with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
– Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101°–102°F
– If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
– Do not give the person alcohol to drink.
– Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, 65 years of age or older, you can help them protect themselves from heat-related stress. Visit older adults at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Encourage them to increase their fluid intake by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of their activity level. (Warning: If their doctor generally limits the amount of fluid they drink or they are on water pills, they will need to ask their doctor how much they should drink while the weather is hot.) Take them to air-conditioned locations if they have transportation problems.

Be sure to share these tips with others! Print them out & stick them to the fridge! You can always check the week’s forecast and “temperature outlook” at our home page!

Stay Cool, Friends!