HOT TIMES AND HEAT DANGERS
I2015 was the hottest year in recorded history. Before that, 2014 was the hottest year. It seems as though 2016 will set a new record for heat. When the weather is hot, it’s time to protect yourself and your children from heat exhaustion which can be dangerous, and heat stroke which can be fatal.
HEAT EXHAUSTION OR HEAT STROKE
– WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
There is no line which divides heat exhaustion from heat stroke just as there is no line dividing ice from steam. It is a continuum in which something that was cool gets warmer and warmer until it is finally transformed. The symptoms of heat exhaustion slowly worsen into the symptoms of heat stroke which can be fatal, even for well-conditioned athletes. An NFL Minnesota Viking, Korey Stringer, passed from heat exhaustion into heat stroke and despite medical attention, he could not be saved and died as a result of overheating.
THE SYMPTOMS OF
HEAT EXHAUSTION INCLUDE
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle cramps
THE SYMPTOMS OF
HEAT STROKE INCLUDE
As you can see, some of the symptoms are the same. One of the main differences that is immediately noticeable is dry skin vs. sweating. Dry skin indicates that the person has moved from heat exhaustion into heat stroke. If someone has signs of heat stroke, call 9-1-1 and arrange for medical attention immediately.
- A temperature of 104 F or higher
- Nausea and vomiting
- Disorientation or delirium
- Lack of sweating
- Shortness of breath
PREVENTING HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE
Some people are particularly at risk for these dangerous heat illnesses:
- People who work outdoors
- Athletes with outdoor sports
- People aged 65 or older
- People who have recently been ill (flu or other common dehydrating illnesses)
THE TWO MAIN PRECAUTIONS TO PREVENTION ARE HYDRATION AND LIMITING HEAT EXPOSURE.
Parents can weigh their children before and after a soccer game or other type of match. If the child loses weight during the contest, he or she is not drinking enough water. A child’s body surface area makes up a much greater proportion of his overall weight than an adult’s, which means children face a much greater risk of dehydration and heat-related illness.
Children should drink water, even when they aren’t thirsty. If they are thirsty – they are already dehydrated. Adults should drink 2-4 cups of water per hour of activity. Remind others to drink water if they aren’t doing so.
Stay hydrated when exposed to heat for multiple days in a row. If a person is 1-2% dehydrated on Monday, and then fails to drink enough fluid on Tuesday, he or she could be 3-4% dehydrated at the end of Tuesday. The problem could be developing as the week progresses.
Keep an eye on your urine or your child’s urine. If it is dark in color, rather than clear or light yellow, it could indicate dehydration. The reason hydration is so important is because the body cools itself by sweating and allowing that sweat to evaporate. This requires enough fluid in the body to make the sweat, air circulating across the skin, and low enough air humidity to allow that sweat to evaporate.
Limiting exposure means getting out of the sun and heat into a cool comfortable place. Ideally, this is air-conditioning, although even shade is better than the hot sun. Place a cool wet cloth on the forehead and back of the neck. Switch to loose-fitting clothing.
Keep an eye on the heat index, which can be higher than the actual temperature, because it takes humidity into consideration. Please, STOP, all activity and get to a cool environment if you feel faint or weak.
And don’t forget your dog or other pets. They can get heat exhaustion or heat stroke as well because they can only cool themselves by their foot pads, and panting and through their noses and mouths.