It’s getting hot in here! Summer is in full swing and the warm weather is proof. With temperatures nearing almost 100 degrees, it’s safe to say that summer has arrived, and the heat is sweltering. When the weather heats up, so do the fun times and activity levels. This means pool parties, barbecues, camping, road trips, beach days and so much more warm weather amusement. People head outdoors to pools, beaches, lakes and skate parks, or go hiking or biking with families and friends. Although laying by the pool or the beach and enjoying the outdoors might be relaxing and healthy, too much heat and sun exposure can cause a number of health complications and even lead to death. When the summer heat gets too excessive for the human body, news outlets and meteorologists start warning people to take extra safety precautions before they step into the sun.
Heat is one of the biggest causes of weather-related deaths. But, heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable. Despite this fact, more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year. In 2017, 87 people died in the U.S. from exposure to excessive heat, according to Injury Facts. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there was an average of 618 heat-exposure related deaths per year from 1999 to 2010, and 68 percent of those deaths were among males. In August 2003, the highest reported number of deaths-by-heat was seen in Europe; an estimated 50,000 lives were claimed. With the summer heat cranking, it’s a perfect time to review some important tips on summer safety and how to protect you and your loved ones from heat related illnesses.
What is extreme heat? Extreme heat often results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards. In most of the United States, extreme heat is defined as a long period (2 to 3 days) of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees. In extreme heat, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. According to MedicalDaily.com, the ways in which the human body deals with heat are by breathing and sweating. The problem with sweating is that the only way for it to be effective in cooling down someone’s body is when the sweat has the ability to evaporate. When the body loses the ability to cool down and the person’s sweat can no longer evaporate, the core body temperature increases and can cause someone to get heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can escalate rapidly, leading to delirium, organ damage and even death, according to NSC.org.
People most at risk include:
- Infants and young children, especially if left in hot cars
- People 65 and older
- People who are ill, have chronic health conditions or are on certain medications
- People who are overweight
According to Ready.gov:
IF YOU ARE UNDER AN EXTREME HEAT WARNING:
- Find air conditioning.
- Avoid strenuous activities.
- Watch for heat illness.
- Wear light clothing.
- Check on family members and neighbors.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
- Never leave people or pets in a closed car.
HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN EXTREME HEAT THREATENS
- Find places in your community where you can go to get cool.
- Keep your home cool by doing the following:
- Cover windows with drapes or shades.
- Weather-strip doors and windows.
- Use window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
- Add insulation to keep the heat out.
- Use attic fans to clear hot air.
- Install window air conditioners and insulate around them.
- Learn to recognize the signs of heat-related illness.
Be Safe DURING:
- Never leave a child, adult, or animal alone inside a vehicle on a warm day.
- Find places with air conditioning. Libraries, shopping malls, and community centers can provide a cool place to take a break from the heat.
- If you’re outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you or someone you care for is on a special diet, ask a doctor how best to accommodate it.
- Do not use electric fans when the temperature outside is more than 95 degrees, as this could increase the risk of heat-related illness. Fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort, but do not reduce body temperature.
- Avoid high-energy activities.
- Check yourself, family members, and neighbors for signs of heat-related illness.
RECOGNIZE AND RESPOND
Know the signs of heat-related illness and the ways to respond to it:
Signs: Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs
Actions: Go to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if cramps last more than an hour.
Signs: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, or fainting
Actions: Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
Signs: Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) taken orally; red, hot, and dry skin with no sweat; rapid, strong pulse; dizziness; confusion; or unconsciousness
Actions: Call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.
Review of how to take immediate action:
- Call 911
- Move the victim to a cool place
- Remove unnecessary clothing
- Immediately cool the victim, preferably by immersing up to the neck in cold water (with the help of a second rescuer)
- If immersion in cold water is not possible, place the victim in a cold shower or move to a cool area and cover as much of the body as possible with cold, wet towels
- Keep cooling until body temperature drops to 101 degrees
- Monitor the victim’s breathing and be ready to give CPR if needed
- Force the victim to drink liquids
- Apply rubbing alcohol to the skin
- Allow victims to take pain relievers or salt tablets
Keep Each Other Safe:
In your community, please check in on neighbors who are elderly, disabled, house-bound or otherwise may be reluctant to ask for help. You can offer to host them in the air-conditioned comfort of your living room on hot days, drive them to a local cooling center, or call relatives or city services to arrange for them to stay cool. Community partners are encouraged to share information on preparedness, safety, and resources within their networks. Additional tips and resources can be found at boston.gov/heat
Know what to look for and know how to prevent heat illnesses. It can truly save a life.
All that said…summer is a blast. There are so many ways to enjoy this special season, but it can also become a very dangerous time of year when things are not done safely and correctly, or the proper precautions are in place. If you’ve been injured in the heat, discuss your situation with the experienced team at Schulze Law. We understand the intricacies of personal injury law, and we have the experience, expertise and resources to help our clients.