Heat Kills More People Than Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Flood, Earthquakes, and Lightning Combined
We run for shelter in hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and lightning, however from 1979-2003 excess heat caused more deaths than all of those other natural disasters combined. More than 8000 people during that time died from heat related deaths.
Heat can be deadly, however most of us don’t usually have plans in place to combat heat related illness. Governments establish evacuation routes and shelters for hurricanes, most of us know to seek shelter in our basement if a tornado approaches and special building codes help protect us from harm in earthquake prone areas. However, do we know what we need to do to protect ourselves and our families from extensive heat? Do we know those at the highest risk to heat exposure?
Who is at Risk for Heat Illness?
- Children and Infants
- Elderly Over 64
- People Working or Exercising in Heat
- The Physically Ill, Especially Those with Heart Disease
What Can I do to Prevent Heat Illness?
- Drink Plenty of Fluids (16-32 oz/hr) While Exercising
- Replace Salt and Minerals Nuun Hydration
- Avoid Alcohol
- Avoid Sunburn-Sunburn affects body’s ability to cool itself.
- Wear light weight and colored clothing.
- Pace Yourself – Don’t exercise so hard in hot weather.
- Stay in Air Conditioning
- Take Cold Shower or Bath
There are a couple of forms of heat illness. Heat exhaustion is the milder form and usually occurs after several days of exposure to high temperatures.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
- Turning pale
- Excessive Sweating
- Muscle Cramping
- Fast Pulse
If symptoms are severe or the person has a history of heart problems seek medical attention. Otherwise try and cool the person off for one hour. If symptoms get worse or don’t resolve seek medical attention.
Treating Heat Exhaustion
- Cold Shower or Bath
- Get in Air Conditioning
- Give a Cool Drink (No Alcohol- Alcohol causes body to lose more fluids)
Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness. In heat stroke the body cannot regulate its own temperature and cool down. Body temperature may rise to over 106 degrees F and result in death, organ dysfunction, or permanent disability if no emergency treatment is provided.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
- Body Temperature Over 103F
- Throbbing Headache
- Rapid and Strong Pulse
- Red, Hot and Dry Skin with no sweating
When you encounter anyone with heat stroke immediately call for emergency services. Heat stroke is potentially life threatening.
Treating Heat Stroke till Emergency Services Arrive
- Cool immediately by getting out of sun into shade. Put in cool bath or shower. Spray with garden hose. Sponge the person with cool water. Do whatever you can do to lower body temperature.
- Monitor body temp and try to keep cooling till temp below 102F.
- Let the emergency room know the nature of the emergency.
- Do not give fluids to the person.
- Make sure they have open airway. If they are vomiting place them on their side.
This is the time of year that students begin their outdoor sport activities. It is important to make sure they know the symptoms of heat sickness and don’t over exercise. Make sure they are hydrated and their coaches know how to handle heat related illness. It may be a matter of life or death.