Virginia Beach EMS Offers Safety Tips for the Heat Wave

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Warm temperatures mean activities and fun under the sun!  Don’t let a heat-related illness spoil the day. If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, an individual 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.  Call 911 immediately if symptoms of a Heat-Related illness occur.


Preventing Heat-Related Illness

  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
  • Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink often even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • 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, the coolest part of the day is in the early morning
  • Stay indoors when possible.
  • Take regular breaks when engaged in physical activity on warm days. If you, or someone else, shows signals of a heat-related illness, stop activity and find a cool place and call 911 if needed.

Know What These Heat-Related Terms Mean

  • Heat Wave: More than 48 hours of high heat (90oF or higher) and high humidity (80 percent relative humidity or higher) are expected.
  • Heat Index: Fahrenheit degrees that tells how hot it really feels with the heat and humidity. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15oF.
  • Heat cramps: 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: 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, and 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.
  • Heat Stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The body’s temperature control system stops working and the body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result. 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. Call 911 as this is a true emergency.

More information about heat related illness can be found at the Centers for Disease Control website


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