Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Heat Wave Safety

This summer is turning out to be a hot one, as usual, so if you have not yet seen our tips for heat waves or need a refresher, keep reading this post to find out!

A few important things about heat waves:
  • A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, generally when the thermometer goes up 10 degrees or more above the average, with often excessive humidity
  • Do not underestimate heat waves. Though they can be less dangerous than other weather events, they are the most lethal weather phenomenon in the United States

It is important to stay aware of possible heat wave situations. The best way to stay informed is to listen to the weather forecast. Here are the terms weather forecasters use when referring to heat waves:
  • Excessive heat watch – It is expected that the heat index (the temperature you feel, affected by temperature and humidity levels) will go up to 105°F during the day
  • Heat advisory – For two consecutive days, the heat index has reached at least 105°F but less than 115°F during the day, for a duration of less than three hours per day
  • Excessive heat warning – For two consecutive days, the heat index has reached at least 105°F for more than three hours per day or 115°F at any time

 What you can do to prepare yourself for a heat wave:
  • Check that your emergency disaster kit is up to date, in case of a power outage
  • If you do not have air conditioning, pick a few places where you can go during the warmest parts of the day, such as shopping malls or libraries
  • Get trained in first aid at the Red Cross to be able to assist and respond to extreme situations

 What you can do during a heat wave:
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio to get live updates on the heat wave
  • Favor indoor activities over outdoor activities, which you should postpone if necessary to cooler parts of the day
  • If you can't delay outdoor activities, take small breaks
  • Even if you don't feel thirsty, drink as much as possible, preferably water and avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors, especially those who live alone or in places with no air conditioning
  • Don't forget your little buddies! Animals also suffer from the heat and need to be checked on. The best thing is to ensure they are not too exposed to heat and that they always have fresh water within grasp
  •  Hot cars are deadly during heat waves, because the temperature can climb very easily to 120°F. Never leave your children or pets in a car during a heat wave, even with the windows open or for a few minutes

 Here are some heat-related illnesses to watch out for:
  •  Heat cramps – Heat cramps are muscular pain that often occur in the abdomen or the legs. They are a sign that the body is not coping well with the heat. The best thing to do in this case is to get the person to a cooler place, to slowly stretch and massage the muscle and to give them an electrolyte-containing drink, such as a sports drink and water
  •  Heat exhaustion – Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. Heat exhaustion signs include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and exhaustion. In case of heat exhaustion, move the person to a cooler place, remove as many clothes as possible and apply wet towels on the body. If the person is conscious, give them small amounts of water and fruits. If the person has a change in consciousness, or refuses water, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number
  •  Heat stroke – Heat stroke is a life threatening condition. A heat stroke often occurs when the signs of heat exhaustion have been ignored. The signs of a heat stroke are often a very high body temperature, a red skin which may be dry or moist, changes in consciousness, a rapid pulse, a shallow breathing, confusion, vomiting, and seizures. If witnessing a heat stroke, remember that it is life threatening and immediately call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Also, try to cool the temperature of the body as much as you can, by immersing the body in cold water, or covering it with bags of ice
Do not forget that animals can also be subject to heat strokes, especially dogs with short noses or snouts such as bulldogs or boxers. If you notice that your pet has difficulties getting up, or an abnormally fast heartbeat, take their temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105°F, cool the animal down until they reach a body temperature of 103°F. The easiest way to do that is by using a water hose. Also, take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

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