What to do when the temperature is rising
The following information has been compiled from numerous resources to provide useful information in hot weather conditions. The following information was taken from these sources and is for information purposes only.
This information should NOT be relied upon for personal diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. If you have medical questions, please contact your healthcare provider.
- What to do when the temperature is rising
- Tips for staying cool during intense heat periods
- Preparing for and coping with heat
- Tips for coping during a heat wave
- Heat Disorders
- National Weather Service info on heat issues
What to do when the temperature is rising :
Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight and strenuous outdoor physical activities…especially in the afternoon…since heat or sun stroke can occur quickly.
Use sun block and drink plenty of water. Also it is advised to check on those more sensitive to heat…such as the elderly… children …and pets. The hot…dry and breezy weather also increases the fire danger.
Source: National Weather Service
Tips for staying cool during intense heat periods :
- Stay out of the sun
Avoid going outside during the hottest part of the day, noon to 4 p.m.
- Limit your activity
Reserve vigorous exercise or activities for early morning or evening.
- Dress properly
Wear a large-brimmed hat and light-colored, light-weight, loose-fitting clothing that breathes. Don't go shirtless--a sweaty shirt will keep you cooler than bare skin.
- Drink plenty of liquids
Fluids help you sweat, which is your body's way of cooling off. Drink lots of water, juice or sports drinks. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks that promote fluid loss through urination.
- Avoid hot, heavy meals
They increase your metabolism, causing an increase in your body temperature.
- Keep it cool
Set your air conditioner between 75 and 80 degrees F. If you don't have an air conditioner, take a cool bath or shower once or twice a day and visit air-conditioned public places.
- Heat Cramps
Heat cramps are painful spasms of muscles along with profuse perspiration, and occur most often during exercise in high temperatures. The muscles most affected are usually the ones you are using during your exercise or your abdominal muscles. You can usually resolve the symptoms by resting and drinking water mixed with a teaspoon of salt per quart.
Prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays produces red, tender, swollen skin that may develop water blisters. Severe cases of sun and heat exposure can result in more serious consequences needing emergency care. Sunburn happens relatively slowly, but can be treated adequately at home with a cool bath or shower followed by the application of hydrocortisone cream several times a day. Do not break the water blisters, but if they break on their own, remove the skin fragments and use an antibacterial ointment on the open areas. Dress them with clean gauze. Taking aspirin several times daily will help alleviate the general discomfort and may reduce swelling.
- Heat Stroke
The main indication of heat stroke is a fever of 105 degrees Fahrenheit with hot, dry skin. Other signs include rapid heartbeat, rapid and shallow breathing, either elevated or lowered blood pressure, and confusion or unconsciousness. If you suspect heat stroke, get the person out of the sun and into a cool spot.
Cool the person by covering him or her with damp sheets or spraying with water. Direct air onto the person with a fan or a newspaper, and monitor the person's temperature with a thermometer. Stop cooling the person when his or her temperature returns to normal. If breathing ceases, start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Heat stroke is an emergency that needs immediate medical attention.
- Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion occurs when your heart and vascular system do not respond properly to high temperatures. The symptoms of heat exhaustion resemble shock and include faintness, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, an ashen appearance, cold clammy skin, and nausea.
If you suspect heat exhaustion, get the person out of the sun and into a cool spot. Lay the person down and elevate his or her feet slightly. Loosen or remove most or all of the person's clothing. Give the person cold (not iced) water to drink, with a teaspoon of salt added per quart.
- Heat Rash
To prevent heat rash, also known as prickly heat, use an air conditioner or fan and dress lightly, preferable in clothing made from pure cotton. Cotton allows sweat to evaporate more easily than most synthetic fibers. If you do get heat rash, taking frequent baths in lukewarm water can help relieve symptoms. Calamine lotion may also help.
Preparing for and coping with heat
Doing too much on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses. Know the symptoms of heat disorders and overexposure to the sun, and be ready to give first aid treatment.
- Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for information on extreme heat.
- Install window air conditioners snugly.
- Close any floor heat registers nearby.
- Insulate spaces around air conditioners for a tighter fit.
- Use a circulating or box fan to spread the cool air.
- Keep heat outside and cool air inside.
- Install temporary reflectors, such as aluminum foil covered cardboard, to reflect any heat back outside. Keep the cool air inside by weather-stripping doors and windowsills.
- Consider keeping storm windows up all year. Storm windows can keep the heat of a house in the summer the same way they keep the cold out in the winter.
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
Tips for coping during a heat wave
- Protect windows. Hang shades, draperies, awnings, or louvers on windows that receive morning or afternoon sun. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat entering the house by as much as 80 percent. Conserve electricity.
- During periods of extreme heat, people tend to use a lot more power for air conditioning which can lead to a power shortage or outage stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do not cool, they just blow hot air around.
- Eat well-balanced, light meals.
- Drink plenty of water regularly. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restrictive diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages. Although beer and alcohol beverages appear to satisfy thirst, they actually cause further body dehydration.
- Dress in loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored clothing that reflects heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body temperature.
- Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Allow your body to get acclimated to hot temperatures for the first 2 or 3 days of a heat wave.
- Avoid too much sunshine. Sunburn slows the skin's ability to cool itself. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes. A cool shower immediately after coming in from hot temperatures can result in hypothermia, particularly for elderly and very young people.
- Slow down. Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule strenuous activities. High-risk individuals should stay in cool places. Get plenty of rest to allow your natural "cooling system" to work.
- Take salt tablets only if specified by your physician. Persons on salt-restrictive diets should check with a physician before increasing salt intake.
- Vacuum air conditioner filters weekly during periods of high use.
- Learn the symptoms of heat disorders and know how to give first aid.
The following information should NOT be relied upon for personal diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. If you have medical questions, please contact your healthcare provider. If you need medical assistance, please contact a medical provider or call 9-1-1
Symptoms: Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches.
First Aid: Take a shower, using soap, to remove oils that may block pores preventing the body from cooling naturally. If blisters occur, apply dry, sterile dressings and get medical attention.
Symptoms: Painful spasms usually in leg and abdominal muscles. Heavy sweating.
First Aid: Firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue.
Symptoms: Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy. Weak pulse. Normal temperature possible. Fainting, vomiting.
First Aid: Get victim to lie down in a cool place. Loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue. If vomiting occurs, seek immediate medical attention.
Heat Stroke (Sun Stroke)
Symptoms: High body temperature (106+). Hot, dry skin. Rapid, strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness. Victim will likely not sweat.
First Aid: Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal. Move victim to a cooler environment. Try a cool bath or sponging to reduce body temperature. Use extreme caution. Remove clothing. Use fans and/or air conditioners. DO NOT GIVE FLUIDS .
National Weather Service information on heat
Why are Heat Waves so dangerous?
Heat kills by taxing the human body beyond its abilities. In a normal year, about 175 Americans succumb to the demands of summer heat. Among the large continental family of natural hazards, only the cold of winter - not lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or earthquakes - takes a greater toll. In the 40-year period from 1936 through 1975, nearly 20,000 people were killed in the United States by the effects of heat and solar radiation. In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1,250 people died. And these are the direct casualties. No one can know how many more deaths are advanced by heat wave weather - how many diseased or aging hearts surrender that under better conditions would have continued functioning.
How does NOAA keep the public informed about heat waves?
With the National Weather Service Heat Index Program, the National Weather Service (NWS) has stepped up its efforts to alert more effectively the general public and appropriate authorities to the hazards of heat waves - those prolonged excessive heat/humidity episodes.
Based on the latest research findings, the NWS has devised the "Heat Index" (HI), (sometimes referred to as the "apparent temperature"). The HI, given in degrees F, is an accurate measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity (RH) is added to the actual air temperature.
IMPORTANT...Since HI values were devised for shady, light wind conditions, EXPOSURE TO FULL SUNSHINE CAN INCREASE HI VALUES BY UP TO 15 degrees F. Also, STRONG WINDS, PARTICULARLY WITH VERY HOT, DRY AIR, CAN BE EXTREMELY HAZARDOUS.
How are Heat Disorders related to the Heat Index?
130 degrees or higher : heatstroke/sunstroke highly likely with continued exposure.
105 -130 degrees : sunstroke, heat cramps or heat exhaustion likely and heatstroke possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.
90 -105 degrees : sunstroke, heat cramps and heat exhaustion possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.
80 - 90 degrees : fatigue possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.
What are the signs of these heat disorders?
SUNBURN : Redness and pain. In severe cases swelling of skin, blisters, fever, headaches. Ointments for mild cases if blisters appear and do not break. If breaking occurs, apply dry sterile dressing. Serious, extensive cases should be seen by physician.
HEAT CRAMPS : Painful spasms usually in muscles of legs and abdomen possible. Heavy sweating. Firm pressure on cramping muscles, or gentle massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue use.
HEAT EXHAUSTION : Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale, and clammy. Pulse thready. Normal temperature possible. Fainting and vomiting. Get victim out of sun. Lay down and loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan or move victim to air conditioned room. Sips of water. If nausea occurs. discontinue use. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.
HEAT STROKE or SUN STROKE : High body temperature (106 degrees F or higher). Hot dry skin. Rapid and strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness.
SEVERE MEDICAL EMERGENCY SUMMON EMERGENCY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE OR GET THE VICTIM TO A HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY. DELAY CAN BE FATAL . Move the victim to a cooler environment. Reduce body temperature with cold bath or sponging. Use extreme caution. Remove clothing, use fans and air conditioners. If temperature rises again, repeat process. Do not give fluids.
How does NOAA keep the public informed about heat waves?
With the National Weather Service Heat Index Program, the National Weather Service (NWS) has stepped up its efforts to alert more effectively the general public and appropriate authorities to the hazards of heat waves - those prolonged excessive heat/humidity episodes. Based on the latest research findings, the NWS has devised the "Heat Index" (HI), (sometimes referred to as the "apparent temperature"). The HI, given in degrees F, is an accurate measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity (RH) is added to the actual air temperature.
How does the NWS alert the public to the occurrence of a heat wave?
The NWS will initiate alert procedures when the HI is expected to exceed 105 degrees to 110 degrees F (depending on local climate) for at least two consecutive days. The procedures are:
- Include HI values in zone and city forecasts.
Issue Special Weather Statements and/or Public Information Statements presenting a detailed discussion of
1. the extent of the hazard including HI values,
2. who is most at risk,
3. safety rules for reducing the risk.
- Assist state/local health officials in preparing Civil Emergency Messages in severe heat waves. Meteorological information from Special Weather Statements will be included as well as more detailed medical information, advice, and names and telephone numbers of health officials.
Who is most susceptible to heat related illnesses?
Elderly persons, small children, chronic invalids, those on certain medications or drugs (especially tranquilizers and anticholinergics), and persons with weight and alcohol problems are particularly susceptible to heat reactions, especially during heat waves in areas where a moderate climate usually prevails.
What can I do to prevent heat related illnesses?
Heat Wave Safety Tips
- Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities to the coolest time of day. Individuals at high risk should stay in the coolest available place (not necessarily indoors)
- Dress in lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Eat lightly
- Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic beverages even if you don't feel thirsty. Persons who have epilepsy, heart, kidney or liver disease, who are on fluid restricted diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their fluid consumption.
- Do not take salt tables unless directed by a physician.
- Spend more time in air-conditioned places.
- Don't get too much sun.