How to stay safe in the upcoming dangerously hot weather

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) — Dangerously hot weather is expected this week, with heat indices soaring to 100°F or higher starting Thursday.

The National Weather Service (NWS) says heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States. Hundreds of people die and hundreds more suffer heat-related illnesses.

The danger comes as your body fights to cool itself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people need to be on the lookout for heat illnesses including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Some of the symptoms and first-aid steps for these illnesses are below:

Symptoms:

  • Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen
  • Heavy sweating

First Aid:

  • Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm.
  • Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water

Symptoms:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cool, pale, clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Possible muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

First Aid:

  • Move person to a cooler environment
  • Lay person down and loosen clothing
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible
  • Fan or move victim to air conditioned room
  • Offer sips of water
  • If person vomits more than once, seek immediate medical attention.

Symptoms:

  • Altered mental state
  • One or more of the following symptons: throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing
  • Body temperature above 103°F
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Faints, loses consciousness

First Aid:

  • Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
  • Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment.
  • Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or bath.
  • Use fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can make you hotter at higher temperatures.
  • Do NOT give fluids.

The CDC says the elderly, young and people with mental illness or chronic diseases are at high risk for heat illnesses. However, people heading out for sumertime activities can be affected.

To protect yourself from extreme heat, the NWS provided the following tips:

  • Slow down: reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
  • Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
  • Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads. If you pack food, put it in a cooler or carry an ice pack. Don’t leave it sitting in the sun. Meats and dairy products can spoil quickly in hot weather.
  • Drink plenty of water (not very cold), non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you on a fluid restrictive diet or have a problem with fluid retention, consult a physician before increasing consumption of fluids. 
  • Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries.
  • Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air.
  • Do not direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°F. The dry blowing air will dehydrate you faster, endangering your health.
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.
  • Take a cool bath or shower.
  • Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
  • Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat. Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia.  Keep your children, disabled adults, and pets safe during tumultuous heat waves.
  • Don’t leave valuable electronic equipment, such as cell phones and gps units, sitting in hot cars.
  • Make sure rooms are well vented if you are using volatile chemicals.

The NWS said temperatures inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to dangerous levels for children, pets and adults. Even leaving the windows slightly open does not help.

The NWS people said people should follow these tips to keep their child safe:

  • Touch a child’s safety seat and safety belt before using it to ensure it’s not too hot before securing a child
  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down, even for just a minute
  • Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars. They could accidentally trap themselves in a hot vehicle.
  • Always lock car doors and trunks–even at home–and keep keys out of children’s reach.
  • Always make sure children have left the car when you reach your destination. Don’t leave sleeping infants in the car ever.

 

The NWS says people working outdoors can be at a higher risk of excessive heat. They suggested the following tips, including following OSHA regulations.

  • Drink water often
  • Rest and cool down in the shade during breaks
  • Gradually increase workload and allow more frequent breaks for new workers or workers who have been away for a week or more
  • Know symptoms, prevention, and emergency response to prevent heat-related illness and death  
  • Check weather forecasts ahead of time to be better prepared.

People looking for a little relief from the heat during the day can head to the Rescue Mission. They provide shelter when temperatures get into the 80s.

When heat index values reach 100°F or higher the City of Fort Wayne steps in to provide a cooling shelter at the Botanical Conservatory.

There are also several area splash pads and community pools that people can visit to take a dip and cool off.

The heat wave won’t last forever. Our meterologists say we should see a break early next week.

Jacob Burbrink

Jacob Burbrink

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