Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Friday Is "Is It Hot Enough for You?" Day

Some of you live in perpetually warm areas but some of us are in areas that are treated to heat only at certain times of the year. And as much as we treasure the warmer times, heat waves are something we can do without. One big reason for this is it gets so tiresome to hear "Hot enough for ya?" from just about everyone you meet. This is only rivaled by the winter greeting, "Cold enough for ya?" that we hear the other months of the year.

But seriously, heat and heat waves are nothing to joke about. In 2003, much of Europe was covered by a serious heat wave that killed over a thousand people in the Paris, France area alone.

Do you know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke? Would you know what to do if you recognized it?

When the human body gets too hot, it begins to sweat. This is a good, healthy reaction to heat. The thirst means we need fluid, and the tiredness means we need to slow down. These are all good signals that we should notice and take notice of. However, many of us don't and this is what causes problems.

Heat exhaustion is the mildest form of heat-related illness. Signs and symptoms include (from

At this point, the affected person needs to be taken out of the heated area and protected from the sun. An air conditioned environment is best but if you are outside, a shaded, protected area is better than nothing. If possible, the person needs to drink water or other non-alcoholic, non-caffeine fluids to start the rehydration process. If he or she is wearing heavy clothes, remove them as much as possible. Finally, a cool shower (NOT cold) or bath could be helpful as well.

Once the body stops sweating, that means we've entered the danger zone. The body can no longer try to regulate its temperature through the regular means, so it's shutting down to try ot protect itself. At this point, you've reached heat stroke. The frightening thing is that heat stroke can come on very quickly and suddenly, so monitoring heat exhaustion is vital. The signs and symptoms of heat stroke include (from

  • high body temperature,

  • the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin,

  • rapid pulse,

  • difficulty breathing,

  • strange behavior,

  • hallucinations,

  • confusion,

  • agitation,

  • disorientation,

  • seizure, and/or

  • coma.
People with heat stroke need immediate emergency medical help. While waiting for help, you can do the same things that are recommended for heat exhaustion.

Prevention is really the best solution. Don't over exert yourself while in the heat, be it inside or outside. Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic drinks, even if you don't feel thirsty. If you don't have air conditioning at home, try to go somewhere that does, like a mall or a movie. Doctors are saying that two hours of exposure to air conditioning helps your body cope overall with the oppressive heat.

Finally, don't forget to check up on the vulnerable, particularly the elderly and those who live alone. They may not be able to get help on their own.

No comments: