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Jul 20

Heat Related Emergencies

Posted on July 20, 2018 at 9:47 AM by Kristy Bansemer

This is the time of year when emergency services respond to heat-related emergencies. When your favorite local weather person talks about an excessive heat warning, meaning the combination of heat and humidity makes our bodies feel like its 105 outside, we need to take precautions.

When temperatures rise, we need to be aware of what can happen to our bodies. You can develop heat exhaustion or heat stroke. With heat exhaustion, you become faint or dizzy, your heart races, you sweat a lot and your muscles cramp. You can easily counteract this by getting in a cool or shaded place, make sure your clothing is loose and drink plenty of water. If your symptoms continue, call 911 or seek medical help.

Heat stroke can cause a throbbing headache, cause you to stop sweating and make your body temperature rise upwards of 103 degrees. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and needs to be dealt with immediately. A person who shows signs of heat stroke may not understand what is happening or what they are doing and could go unconscious. If this happens, call 911 immediately. Make sure they are in the shade if outside. Dampen their clothing to help cool them down but do not pour ice water on them because it can shock the body. Stay with them until the Fire Department or EMS arrives. 

If you normally work outside, you know the effects heat can have on you and know to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks. For us who need to be reminded, eight glasses of water (or even a gallon for some) is the daily recommendation. If you plan to be outside, consider drinking more water before you head out to help avoid dehydration. Avoid caffeinated drinks, coffee and energy drinks. 

Now, let’s talk about leaving babies, children and pets in the car while you make a quick dash into the store. Don’t do it! Ever. Temperatures can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes easily, depending on what the outside temperature is. Babies and pets are very vulnerable to heat and can die easily when left in cars for 15 minutes or more.

Last of all, don’t forget about older adults. Some may not have the means to run air conditioning in their homes. As temperatures rise outside, so can the temperature inside. If you know someone who does not have air conditioning, help them out or call 211 to seek assistance. 

Summer’s a great time to be outdoors enjoying a pool or activities, but make sure you are wise about the heat and what it can do to your body.

Brad Smith
Fire Chief

Published in the Derby Informer on July 18, 2018.