07/27/2006 - 07:24 am
North American summers are hot; most summers see heat waves in one section or another of the United States. East of the Rockies, they tend to combine both high temperature and high humidity although some of the worst have been catastrophically dry. Heat kills by taxing the human body beyond its abilities.
Children are particularly susceptible to heat reactions, especially during heat waves in areas where a moderate climate usually prevails.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has stepped up its efforts to alert more effectively the general public and appropriate authorities to the hazards of heat waves-those prolonged excessive heat/humidity episodes.
Based on the latest research findings, the NWS has devised the “Heat Index” (HI), (sometimes referred to as the “apparent temperature”). The HI, given in degrees F, is an accurate measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity (RH) is added to the actual air temperature.
To find the HI, look at the Heat Index Chart. As an example, if the air temperature is 95°F (found on the left side of the table) and the RH is 55% (found at the top of the table), the HI-or how hot it really feels-is 110°F. This is at the intersection of the 95° row and the 55% column.
General heat safety tips:
Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated, or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day. Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
Dress for summer. Lightweight light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight, and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.
Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods (like proteins) that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
Drink plenty of water or other non-alcohol fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Persons who (1) have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease, (2) are on fluid restrictive diets or (3) have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids.
Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spending some time each day (during hot weather) in an air conditioned environment affords some protection.
Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.
Heat Disorder Symptoms
SUNBURN: Redness and pain. In severe cases swelling of skin, blisters, fever, headaches. First Aid: Ointments for mild cases if blisters appear and do not break. If breaking occurs, apply dry sterile dressing. Serious, extensive cases should be seen by physician.
HEAT CRAMPS: Painful spasms usually in muscles of legs and abdomen possible. Heavy sweating. First Aid: Firm pressure on cramping muscles, or gentle massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue use.
HEAT EXHAUSTION: Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy. Pulse thready. Normal temperature possible. Fainting and vomiting. First Aid: Get victim out of sun. Lay down and loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan or move victim to air conditioned room. Sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue use. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.
HEAT STROKE (or sunstroke): High body temperature (106° F. or higher). Hot dry skin. Rapid and strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness. First Aid: HEAT STROKE IS A SEVERE MEDICAL EMERGENCY. SUMMON EMERGENCY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE OR GET THE VICTIM TO A HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY. DELAY CAN BE FATAL. Move the victim to a cooler environment Reduce body temperature with cold bath or sponging. Use extreme caution. Remove clothing, use fans and air conditioners. If temperature rises again, repeat process. Do not give fluids. Persons on salt restrictive diets should consult a physician before increasing their salt intake.
*For more information contact your local American Red Cross Chapter.
Source:NOAA’s National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the American Red Cross
The evaluation of any athlete, whether as a part of health evaluations prior to activity or as a diagnosis of an injury as the consequence of sports activities, is specific to that individual and the history and current state of the individual presented. Advice, diagnosis and treatment is individualized according to numerous factors, including patient health and age information, medical history and symptoms. All athletes should be cleared by a physician or other appropriate medical professional before engaging in physical activities and, after injury, diagnosis and treatment, for return to play.