According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year. Some people are more at risk of developing a heat-related illness, including adults age 65 and older, those with chronic medical conditions, people who work outside, infants and children and athletes. Follow these safety steps to help stay safe when the temperatures soar.
HEAT SAFETY TIPS –BEFORE
Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
Be aware of both the temperature and the heat index. The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined.
Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work and school—and prepare for power outages.
Check the contents of your emergency disaster kit in case a power outage occurs.
Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
Get trained in First Aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
Ensure that your animals' needs for water and shade are met.
What To Do During a Heat Wave
Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
Eat small meals and eat more often.
Avoid extreme temperature changes.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
Postpone outdoor games and activities.
Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
HEAT EXHAUSTION Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.
If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.
HEAT STROKE LIFE-THREATENING Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.
ONLINE COURSE FOR COACHES The online course – First Aid, Health and Safety for Coaches – was developed by the Red Cross and the National Federation of State High School Associations to provide an overview of first aid and “best practices” for first aid situations encountered by coaches, including injuries to officials, fellow coaches or spectators. More information is available here.
DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand and settings for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts including heat advisories and excessive heat warnings. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips including heat-related emergencies. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.
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