Heat Stroke and other Heat-related Illness
When the temperature rises, the risk of a heat-related injury rises as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Red Cross, approximately 400 Americans die each year due to summer’s heat and humidity. Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees but the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses. Here are some tips:
General Care for Heat Emergencies:
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 plenty of 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 high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.
Take it easy. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning before 7 a.m.
Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on elderly residents in your neighborhood and those who do not have air conditioning.
Remember – never leave a child inside of a car – temperatures can heat up to over 120 degrees within minutes.
Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).
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 half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water or is vomiting or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.
Many times people want to cool off at the pool, beach or lake…. But, taking part in these activities means making sure your children and grandchildren are safe around the water. Approximately 800 children ages 14 and under in the United States drown each year and nearly 2,700 require emergency room treatment for unintentional drowning related injuries. 55 people have already drowned this year! Children between the ages of one and three (12 to 47 months) represented 66 percent of these fatalities and 64 percent of the injuries and tragically, based on reported statistics, 96% of victims involved in a submersion incident will die. Fatalities usually occur the day of the drowning event (72%).
A child who is under water will lose consciousness after two minutes and suffer irreversible brain damage within four to six minutes. So, what’s to blame for most drownings? POOR SUPERVISION! Nine out of ten children who have died in the water were being watched by an adult. Many times these adults become distracted. It only takes a moment for an accident to happen.
If you have a backyard pool or hot-tub:
- Always keep your children within arms reach. Keep your eyes on them at all times.
- Select swimming areas carefully.
- Have your child wear a bright colored swimsuit – pale colors are hard to find if your child were to fall into the water.
- Use proper safety devices. Arm floaties and air-filled tubes aren’t approved for safety and WILL NOT protect your child against drowning. Use a U.S. Coast Guard approved life preserver whenever your child is on a boat or raft, near a river or participating in water sports.
- Don’t rely on the lifeguard.
- Be wary of plastic or inflatable pools. Watch your child even if they are in very shallow water.
- Never leave infants in the bathtub unsupervised. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water! Babies are at greatest risk to drown in the bathtub!
Pools aren’t the only dangers. Another hidden danger is the drain. Few parents realize that children can die in a pool or hot-tub by getting sucked down and trapped in a drain. A child’s hair or bathing suit can get stuck. Remember to:
- Know where your child is AT ALL TIMES. If your child is missing, check the pool first.
- Surround your pool or hot-tub on four sides with a fence that is at least four or five feet high and never prop open a gate to the pool area. Make sure the latches are out of your child’s reach.
- Set up several roadblocks – Equip doors, gates and windows that lead to the pool or hot-tub area with locks and alarms or invest in a sonar device that sets off an alarm when something enters the water. Floating alarms also go off if the water is disturbed.
- Cover your pool with a rigid safety cover whenever you are not using it. If you have an above ground pool, remove ladders and steps when they’re not in use.
- Don’t leave toys in the pool area or use chemical dispensers that look like toys. Many children attempt to reach the toys and fall in unintentionally.
- Be prepared for an emergency. Keep a phone by the pool to call 9-1-1. Learn CPR and make sure your child’s caregivers know it too.
- Dump small pools when not in use!
When swimming, make sure your child knows the following rules:
- Make sure that any pool or hot tub drain you use has an anti-entrapment drain cover. It should also have at least two drains for each pump which will reduce the powerful suction if one drain is blocked.
- Watch your child closely and make sure she doesn’t swim or play near drains. Have her tie her hair back or wear a bathing cap and make sure her swimsuit fits snugly with no loose ties.
And finally – grilling!
It is always important to follow a few simple safety precautions to help ensure that your outdoor cooking remains safe for you, your family and your guests.
- DO swim only if there is a lifeguard or if a grown-up gives you permission to swim.
- DO take swimming lessons.
- DO follow water safety rules.
- DO swim with a buddy.
- DO wade into the water feet first if you’re swimming in a lake, pond or river.
- DO wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when you are in a boat.
- DO get out of water right away if you hear thunder or see lightning.
- DO NOT stand up in a boat.
- DO NOT sit or stand on the edge of a boat or let your arms hang over the edge.
- DO NOT eat candy or chew gum when you are swimming.
- DO NOT swim when you are tired.
- DO NOT dive off piers or rocks.
- DO NOT run around a swimming pool, deck or pier.
- Before using your grill for the first time each season, check it thoroughly to ensure that all hoses are clear and firmly attached and that there are no leaks or blockages.
- Never use water to control grease flare-ups on gas barbecues.
- Before having a propane cylinder filled, check it for dents, gouges or other signs of disrepair.
- When having a cylinder filled, it is important to make sure that the cylinder is not overfilled.
- Check and make sure all connections are tight BEFORE turning on the gas. Leaks can be detected by dabbing the connections with a solution of soapy water and turning on the gas momentarily. If bubbles occur, there is a leak and it must be fixed before the grill is used.
- NEVER store spare propane cylinders indoors or near a barbecue, heat source or open flame.
- Always set up BBQ's in an open area at least 10 feet from any house, shed, fence, tree or any other combustible material, such as leaves or brush. Be aware of the wind blowing sparks.
- It's a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher within handy reach.
- To prevent burns use long handled barbecue tools and/or flame retardant mitts.
- Do not wear loose clothing and watch for dangling apron strings and shirt-tails.
- Keep children away from the grill to prevent injuries.