Tips on Avoiding Heat Related Illness
With temperatures now breaking 100 degrees, agencies for people, pets, and livestock are warning of overexposure to the heat. Extreme heat can be a fatal weather risk here in Texas, and everyone is at risk- especially the elderly, very young, and those who work outdoors. Following, are some tips for dealing with extreme heat, and how to identify heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Before the Heat Wave:
- Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
- Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
- Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.
- Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
When Temperatures Soar:
- The coolest part of the day is normally sunrise, so plan any necessary strenuous activity for the morning.
- Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine.
- Drink plenty of water even if you don’t feel thirsty as water is most hydrating liquid to drink during a heat wave.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can intensify the negative effect on your body.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect some of the sun’s energy.
- Never leave children, elderly, or pets in the car even with the windows down. Although the outside air temperatures may seem comfortable, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise 40 to 50 degrees and swiftly create deadly, oven-like conditions.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion:
- Cool, flushed, moist, or pale skin
- Heavy sweating and high body temperature
Signs of Heat Stroke:
- Hot, red skin
- Changes in consciousness
- A rapid, weak pulse
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- A very high body temperature – even as high as 105 degrees F.
- If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry