Staying safe in the heat

  • Saturday, July 19, 2014

American Red Cross reminds everyone of the steps they should take to stay safe as summer temperatures rise in South Carolina.

“In recent years there have been more deaths related to the heat than to all other weather events,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer, American Red Cross, Palmetto SC Region. “There are steps people can take to stay safe and beat the heat.”

Heat safety

Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.

Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.

Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.

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.

Eat small meals and eat more often.

Avoid extreme temperature changes.

Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.

Heat can be dangerous

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 limit 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 half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.

If a person 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.

The Red Cross also has steps pet owners should take to keep their furry friends safe during hot weather.

Red Cross training can give one the skills and confidence to act in an emergency. For more information contact one of the Red Cross chapters in the Palmetto SC Region (http://www.redcross.org/sc/columbia/palmetto-region/locations) or visit www.redcross.org.

The American Red Cross Palmetto SC Region spans 35 counties in South Carolina and responds to a disaster every 6.5 hours. With the support of volunteers and donors, the Palmetto SC Region has helped more than 1,600 individuals affected by disasters since January 1.

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