Keep Your Cool
With The Summer's Heat
American Red Cross
**Unedited by BPO Staff
Warm weather means activities and fun
under the sun! Whether you love putting on shorts and feeling
the warm outdoors, or find it hot and sticky, everyone must
be careful not to let a heat-related illness spoil the day.
Normally, the body has ways of keeping
itself cool, by letting heat escape through the skin, and by
evaporating sweat (perspiration). If the body does not cool
properly or does not cool enough, the victim may suffer a heat-related
illness. Anyone can be susceptible although the very young and
very old are at greater risk. Heat-related illnesses can become
serious or even deadly if unattended.
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.
Eat small meals and eat more
often. Avoid foods that are high in protein which
increase metabolic heat.
Avoid using salt tablets
unless directed to do so by a physician.
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 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
Stay indoors when possible.
Take regular breaks when
engaged in physical activity on warm days.
Take time out to find a cool
place. If you recognize that you, or someone else,
is showing the signals of a heat-related illness, stop activity
and find a cool place. Remember, have fun, but stay cool!
Know What These Heat-Related
Heat Wave: More
than 48 hours of high heat (90oF or higher) and high humidity
(80 percent relative humidity or higher) are expected.
A number in degrees Fahrenheit that tells how hot it really
feels with the heat and humidity. Exposure to full sunshine
can increase the heat index by 15o F.
Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion.
They usually involve the abdominal muscles or the legs. It is
generally thought that the loss of water and salt from heavy
sweating causes the cramps.
Heat exhaustion is less dangerous than heat stroke. It typically
occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid
place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Fluid
loss causes blood flow to decrease in the vital organs, resulting
in a form of shock. With heat exhaustion, sweat does not evaporate
as it should, possibly because of high humidity or too many
layers of clothing. As a result, the body is not cooled properly.
Signals include cool, moist, pale, flushed or red skin; heavy
sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion.
Body temperature will be near normal.
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 105oF.
Stages of Heat-Related
Heat-related illness usually
comes in stages. The signal of the first stage
is heat cramps in muscles. These cramps can be very painful.
If you are caring for a person who has heat cramps, have him
or her stop activity and rest. If the person is fully awake
and alert, have him or her drink small amounts of cool water
or a commercial sports drink.
Gently stretch the cramped muscle and
hold the stretch for about 20 seconds, then gently massage the
muscle. Repeat these steps if necessary. If the victim has no
other signals of heat-related illness, the person may resume
activity after the cramps stop.
The signals of the next, more
serious stage of a heat-related illness (often called heat exhaustion)
Cool, moist, pale skin (the skin may be
red right after physical activity).
Dizziness and weakness or exhaustion.
The skin may or may not feel hot.
The signals of the late stage
of a heat-related illness (often called heat stroke) include--
Decreased alertness level or complete loss of consciousness.
High body temperature (sometimes as high as 105oF).
Skin may still be moist or the victim may stop sweating and
the skin may be red, hot and dry.
Rapid, weak pulse.
Rapid, shallow breathing.
This late stage of a heat-related
illness is life threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency
General Care for
Cool the Body
For 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 a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let
him or her drink too quickly. Do not give liquids with alcohol
or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse. Remove
or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as
towels or wet sheets. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number
if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.
For heat stroke:
Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed
fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local EMS number. Move the person to
a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Wrap wet sheets around
the body and fan it. If you have ice packs or cold packs, wrap
them in a cloth and place them on each of the victim's wrists
and ankles, in the armpits and on the neck to cool the large
blood vessels. (Do not use rubbing alcohol because it closes
the skin's pores and prevents heat loss.) Watch for signals
of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep
the person lying down.