|Protect Your Family from Heat Danger
While thunderstorms usually get the most attention when it comes to dangerous weather in our area, summertime heat and humidity are also threats that we need to be aware of. Heat kills by taxing the human body beyond its abilities. In a normal year, about 175 Americans succumb to the demands of summer heat. This page contains basic safety information to help protect you and your family from the dangers of overexposure to the heat. Continue reading to find information about the heat index, heat-related products issued by our office, and additional helpful links.
Summer Safety Rules
What To Look For and Actions To Take
||Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches.
||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.
||Painful spasms usually in leg and abdominal muscles. Heavy sweating.
||Firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue.
||Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy. Weak pulse. Normal temperature possible. Fainting, vomiting.
||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.
|High body temperature (106+). Hot, dry skin. Rapid, strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness. Victim will likely not sweat.
||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.
You can help yourself and others avoid experiencing the HEAT DISORDERS (above) by following these safety rules.
Thinking About Yourself
- Avoid the Heat. Stay out of the heat and indoors as much as possible. Avoid prolonged work in the sun, or in poorly ventilated areas. Spend time in an air conditioned space. Only two hours a day in an air-conditioned space can significantly reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Shopping malls offer relief if your home is not air-conditioned. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember, electric fans do not cool, they just blow hot air around.
- Dress for the heat. Wear 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 your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. 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.
- Drink FOR the Heat. Drink plenty of water and natural juices, even if you don't feel thirsty. Even under moderately strenuous outdoor activity, the rate your body can absorb fluids is less than the rate it loses water due to perspiration. However, if you have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restrictive diets; or have a problem with fluid retention; you should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Do not drink IN the Heat. Avoid alcoholic beverages and beverages with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and cola. Alcohol and caffeine constrict blood vessels near the skin reducing the amount of heat the body can release. Although beer and alcohol beverages appear to satisfy thirst, they actually cause further body dehydration.
- Eat for the Heat. Eat small meals more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein because they increase metabolic heat. Avoid using salt tablets, unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Living in the Heat. Slow down. Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule strenuous activities such as running, biking and lawn care work when it heats up. The best times for such activities are during early morning and late evening hours. Take cool baths or showers and use cool, wet towels.
- Learn the symptoms of heat disorders and know how to give first aid.
Thinking About Others
- Do not leave people or pets in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes. This is a "No-Brainer." Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140°F-190°F within 30 minutes on a hot, sunny day. However, despite this common sense rule, deaths from heat occur almost every summer when someone leaves their child in a closed vehicle. Beat the Heat, Check the Back Seat!
- If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 9-1-1 immediately!
- Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don't overlook sleeping babies.
- Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.
- If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk.
- Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.
- Keep a stuffed animal in the carseat. When the child is put in the seat, place the animal in the front with the driver;
or, place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
- Make "look before you leave" a routine whenever you get out of the car.
- When outdoors, protect small children from the sun; their skin is sensitive.
- Help your pets keep their cool. It will "feel" as hot for them as it will for you. As with children, do not leave your pets in a closed vehicle. Be sure your animals have access to shade and a water bowl full of cold, clean water. Dogs don't tolerate heat well because they don't sweat. Their bodies get hot and stay hot. During summer heat, avoid outdoor games or jogging with your pet. If you would not walk across hot, sunbaked asphalt barefoot, don't make your dog walk on it either. (Dogs can also get blisters on their paws from hot pavement.)
- Children, the elderly, and people with chronic ailments are usually the first to suffer from the heat. Friends, relatives, or neighbors should check on people who may be at risk, particularly if their home does not have air conditioning.
Thinking About Your Environment
- 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%.
- 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. Vacuum air conditioner filters weekly during periods of high use.
- Keep lights turned down or turned off.
- Avoid using the oven.
The Heat Index and Products Issued by NWS Wilmington, OH
The Heat Index is based on work by R.G. Steadman and published in 1979 under the title "The Assessment of Sultriness, Parts 1 and 2." In this work, Steadman constructed a table which uses relative humidity and dry bulb temperature to produce the "apparent temperature" or the temperature the body "feels." The heat index is a good indicator for how much heat stress the human body must endure.
You can use a table like this to provide Heat Index values. These values are for shady locations only. Exposure to full sunshine can increase heat index values by up to 15°F. Also, strong winds, particularly with very hot, dry air, can be extremely hazardous as the wind adds heat to the body. The Heat Index Chart is below.
The National Weather Service in Wilmington, OH will use the following criteria to issue alerts when we are forecasting elevated heat indices.
A Heat Advisory will be issued when there is a high probability of the heat index reaching 100-104°F.
An Excessive Heat Watch will be issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event (warning criteria--see below) in the next 24 to 72 hours. A Watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain. A Watch provides enough lead time so that those who need to prepare can do so.
An Excessive Heat Warning will be issued when an excessive heat event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occuring. For our area, this means the heat index is forecast to be 105°F or higher. This type of heat can be life threatening and the precautionary measures listed above should be taken.
In addition, NWS Wilmington, OH has an agreement with the health departments in Montgomery County, OH (Dayton area) and Hamilton County, OH (Cincinnati area) to issue an Excessive Heat Warning for those particular counties if the heat index is expected to be 100°F or higher for two or more days in a row.
Here are some additional links to help protect your family from life threatening heat.
Hyperthermia Deaths of Children in Vehicles
Beat the Heat, Check the Back Seat!
Do not leave children in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes!
Heat: A Major Killer
Heat Wave Brochure