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Preparation Is the Best Way to Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses

Preparation Is the Best Way to Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses


By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest

The recent spate of extremely high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest is a reminder that the torrid days of summer are far from over. With that in mind, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has some tips on dealing with very hot weather.

It’s never too late to prepare for dangerously high temperatures and the possibility of power outages. You should create an emergency kit that includes:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for three days
  • At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • A flashlight, first aid kit, extra batteries, cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Prescription and non-prescription medications such as pain relievers and an antiseptic
  • Pet food for at least three days

During Extreme Heat

  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to replace the salts and minerals in your body.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Dress in loose-fitting clothing.
  • Avoid strenuous work outdoors during the hottest part of the day.
  • Eat well-balanced, light meals at regular intervals.

Dealing with Heat-Related Illnesses

  • Cramps are often the first sign of heat-related trouble.
  • Get the person to a cooler location and remove excess clothing.
  • Give cool sports drinks that do not contain caffeine or alcohol.
  • Seek medical assistance if the cramps do not subside in one hour, if the sufferer has heart problems or is on a low-sodium diet.

Dealing with Heat Exhaustion

  • Move the victim to an air-conditioned space and lie down, loosen or remove the victim’s clothing.
  • Cool the victim in a cool shower or bath, or apply cool, wet cloths to the skin.
  • Give sips of water or cool sports drinks containing salt and sugar, but not caffeine or alcohol.
  • Discontinue treatment if the victim becomes nauseated.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if the victim is not improving, if the victim is unable to take fluids or if any symptoms are severe.

Dealing with Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. It includes symptoms such as:

  • A body temperature above 103 degrees
  • Hot, dry red skin
  • A rapid, strong pulse
  • Headache
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Confusion and unconsciousness

If you suspect that someone has heatstroke, call 911 or emergency medical services. You can also transport the victim to the nearest hospital. In addition:

  • Until medical assistance arrives, move the person to a cooler location.
  • Cool the victim by removing clothing.
  • Bathe or sponge the victim’s skin with cool water, or place a cold, wet sheet over the victim.
  • Do NOT give the victim fluids.

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