Heat waves are potentially dangerous. It is vital for people to recognize the problems of heat waves and take steps to avoid the harmful affects.
Older people, young children and invalids are the ones who suffer most from heat waves. Others affected by heat waves are those who are on the following medications or drugs: tranquilizers, bronchodilators, and those who have alcohol problems. Overweight people also are prone to heat reactions.
The following are heat wave safety tips.
1. Slow down – Avoid strenuous activities.
*Note: Physical laborers need acclimation to the heat wave. It takes two to three weeks to acclimate. Supervisors should modify the work schedule, if possible. Begin work earlier in the day when the temperature is lower and quit before temperatures become unbearable. Reduce the amount of physical activities and use equipment. Be aware of the heat stress symptoms (given at the end of the article).
Stay in a cool place. This does not necessarily mean indoors. A lake, beach or pool are excellent locations to cool off.
2. Dress for summer
Loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing helps keep the body cool.
3. Eat light
Proteins increase body heat. It takes more effort for the metabolism to digest heavy foods. This makes the body hotter and increases water loss.
4. Drink plenty of liquids
Drink, even if not feeling thirsty.
*If a person has epilepsy, heart, kidney, or liver disease and are on a liquid restrictive diet, should check with their doctor.
*Do not drink alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is a diuretic.
5. A good investment is to get an air conditioner. If a person cannot afford one, try to go to an air-conditioned environment. It helps avoid polluted air and gives a person protection.
The National Weather Service gives first-aid tips for the following heat disorder symptoms. It is vital to recognize these symptoms for safety reasons.
Sunburn – Redness and pain. In severe cases, swelling of skin, blisters, fever and headaches. First Aid: Ointments for mild cases. If blistered, do not break and apply a sterile dressing. If badly blistered, see a doctor.
Heat Cramps – Painful spasms in muscles of the legs, and sometimes in the stomach. Heavy sweating usually accompanies the spasms. First Aid: Firm pressure on cramping muscles, or massage. Give sips of water.
Heat Exhaustion – Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy. Pulse is irregular. Fainting and vomiting are other symptoms. Temperature may be normal. First Aid: Get the person out of the sun. Lay the person down and loosen the clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan the victim, or move to an air conditioned room. Give sips of water. If vomiting continues after applying the former first aid measures, take the victim to the doctor.
Heat Stroke or Sunstroke – High body temperature (106º or higher). Hot, dry skin, rapid pulse, and unconsciousness. First Aid: call 911.
Understanding the type of safety tips and symptoms of heat disorders avoids tragedies. A heat wave is different from hot weather. Heat waves include pollutants in the air.