The killer heat wave continues, targeting the Southeast and Pacific Northwest throughout the week. As hot weather eases in the Northeast, the National Weather Service warns the Pacific Northwest faces the highest risk of heat-related illnesses. In the south-central region, temperatures could reach 110 degrees.
The combination of heat and high humidity leaves many people open to the possibility of heat-related illnesses or heatstroke. Many homes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho are not air-conditioned, putting these residents at risk.
The American Red Cross urges everyone in affected areas to follow these safety measures.
HEAT SAFETY TIPS
- Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The car’s interior temperature can quickly reach 120 degrees.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks containing caffeine or alcohol.
- Check family, friends, and neighbors who don’t have air conditioning, spend a lot of their time alone, or are more likely to be affected by heat.
- If you don’t have air conditioning, seek relief from the heat during the hottest part of the day in places like schools, libraries, theaters, malls, etc.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors as they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Slow down, stay indoors, and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Use your oven less to help reduce the temperature in your home.
- Check animals frequently to make sure they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water and shade. See more information on pet heat safety here.
WHO IS AT RISK? Some people are at higher risk of developing heat-related illness, including adults 65 and older, people with chronic illnesses, people who work outdoors, infants, children, and athletes. Some may take medications that make the effects of extreme heat worse. People with heart disease, poor blood circulation, obesity and mental illness are at risk of getting sick if temperatures rise.
WORK OUTSIDE can produce heat stress, resulting in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or rashes. The heat can also increase the risk of injury to workers, as it can lead to sweaty hands, foggy safety glasses and dizziness. Important safety information is available here from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone experiences heat cramps in their legs or abdomen, move them to a cooler place, rest them, stretch the affected muscle slightly, and replenish their fluids with half a glass (about 4 ounces) fresh water every 15 minutes.
If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion (cold, clammy, pale or flushed skin, profuse sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness and exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and douse with water or apply cool, damp cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If conscious, have him drink small amounts of cool water. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Monitor status changes. If the person refuses to drink, vomits or begins to pass out, call 911.
LIFE-THREATENING HEAT STROKE Heat stroke usually occurs by ignoring signals of heat exhaustion. Heatstroke develops when the body’s systems are overwhelmed with heat and begin to stop functioning. Signs include hot, red skin that may be dry or moist; consciousness changes; vomiting and elevated body temperature. Call 911 immediately if anyone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to the neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover them with cold, wet towels or ice packs.
DOWNLOAD THE RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross “Emergency” app can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hands with over 35 customizable weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross First Aid app gives you instant access to information on handling the most common first aid scenarios, including heat-related emergencies. Download these apps for free by searching for “American Red Cross” in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn first aid and CPR/AED techniques (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.