Beat the heat by taking precautionsHeat can kill. That’s why Wisconsin Emergency Management and the National Weather Service are reminding people of the dangers associated with extreme heat, to promote safety measures. Thursday has been proclaimed Heat Awareness Day throughout the state.
Heat can kill. That’s why Wisconsin Emergency Management and the National Weather Service are reminding people of the dangers associated with extreme heat, to promote safety measures. Thursday has been proclaimed Heat Awareness Day throughout the state.
In 2011, excessive heat claimed five lives and injured more than 108 people in Wisconsin during the July 17-21 heat wave. Most of those victims did not have air conditioning.
The combination of the warm temperatures and high humidity caused the heat index to rise between 100 and 117 degrees over much of the state prompting many communities to open cooling centers.
In 1995, two major killer heat waves affected most of Wisconsin resulting in 154 heat-related deaths and over 300 heat-related illnesses.
Summer heat waves have been the biggest weather-related killers in Wisconsin for the past 50 years, far exceeding tornadoes, severe storms and floods combined. Heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the United States.
Tips to keep cool
To help keep cool this summer, here are some tips to keep safe in hot weather.
* Never leave children, disabled people or pets in a parked car, even briefly. Temperatures in a car can become life threatening within minutes. On an 80-degree day with sunshine, the temperature inside a car even with the windows cracked slightly can rise 20 to 30 degrees above the outside temperature in 10 to 20 minutes. Go to www.nws.noaa.gov/os/heat/index.shtml
* Keep your living space cool. Cover windows to keep the sun from shining in. If you don’t have an air conditioner, open windows to let air circulate. When it’s hotter than 95 degrees, use fans to blow hot air out of the window rather than to blow hot air on your body. Basements or ground floors are often cooler than upper floors.
* Slow down and limit physical activity. Plan outings or exertion for the early morning or after dark when temperatures are cooler.
* Drink plenty of water and eat lightly. Don’t wait for thirst, but instead drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid alcohol or caffeine and stay away from hot, heavy meals.
* Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Add a hat or umbrella to keep your head cool … and don’t forget sunscreen.
* Don’t stop taking medication unless your doctor says you should. Take extra care to stay cool and ask your doctor or pharmacist for any special heat advice.
* Taking a cool shower or bath will cool you down. A shower or bath will actually work faster than an air conditioner. Applying cold wet rags to the neck, head and limbs also cools down the body quickly.
* People at higher risk of a heat-related illness include older adults, infants and young children, people with chronic heart or lung problems, people with disabilities or who are overweight, those who work outdoors or in hot settings, users of some medications, especially those taken for mental disorders, movement disorder, allergies, depression, and heart or circulatory problems and people who are isolated that don’t know when or how to cool off — or when to call for help.
Heat related illnesses
There are a number of heat-related illnesses to be aware of during hot weather.
Heat cramps are cramping or muscle spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs. To treat heat cramps, stop activity, cool down and drink clear juice or a sports drink.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea and fainting. Treat heat exhaustion by cooling down and seeking medical attention.
The symptoms of heat stroke are an extremely high body temperature, red, hot, dry skin, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, unconsciousness. If someone is experiencing heat stroke, call 911 and cool the victim with a shower or hose until help arrives.