Red Cross Issues Tips to Stay Safe this Summer as Temperatures Rise

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Summer is here, bringing with it dangerous excessive heat. The American Red Cross has steps people can follow to stay safe as the temperatures soar.

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Temperature can rise quickly as high as 19 degrees within 10 minutes.*

NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN, PETS IN THE CAR, the inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Other heat safety steps include:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because 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 a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.

    carheat1

    Within 20 minutes, the temperature reaches to an unbearable 109 degrees.* (*Graphic Courtesy of General Motors and Golden Gate Weather Services)

  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affectedby the heat.
  • Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
  • If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

HEAT EXHAUSTION Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

HEAT STROKE IS LIFE-THREATENING. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

For more information on what to do when temperatures rise, people can visit redcross.org, download the Red Cross Heat Wave Safety Checklist, or download the free Red Cross First Aid. The app is available for iPhone and Android smart phone and tablet users in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. People can learn how to treat heat-related and other emergencies by taking First Aid and CPR/AED training online or in person. Go to redcross.org/takeaclass for information and to register.

Year of Death # Fatalities
2000 1
2002 8
2003 9
2004 4
2005 12
2006 10
2007 5
2008 1
2009 8
2010 9
2011 5
2012 24

(From Wisconsin Department of Health Services)

Note: Numbers in table are totals of directly and indirectly-related heat fatalities. If heat was the primary cause of death it is a directly related heat death. If heat was a secondary or contributing cause of death it is an indirectly related heat death.

Treacherous Heat Lingers

A dangerous heat wave is covering a large part of the country, from North Dakota to Texas and is expected to move eastward as the week goes on. The American Red Cross encourages people to take steps to safely endure the soaring temps.

With a heat index making it feel as hot as 110 degrees in some areas, the hot weather has closed down government buildings, damaged crops and caused numerous water main breakages. Weather experts are predicting the excessive heat will move east and cook the country through the end of July.

The extreme temperatures can feel like walking into a wall of heat when venturing outside. Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. To help avoid problems, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes. 

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Heat stroke is life-threatening. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or you can cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

People should get ready to deal with the heat now. Follow these additional steps to stay safe during the heat:

  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.  
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Ensure they have water and a shady place to rest
Learn more on how to prevent and respond to heat emergencies by taking first aid and CPR training. Contact your local Red Cross or visit redcross.org/training to schedule a class.

For more information on what to do during this heat wave, visit the Red Cross web site.