Heat can kill people because it pushes the human body past what it can handle. In extreme heat and high humidity, water evaporation is slowed, and the body must work extra hard to keep a normal temperature.
Most heat problems occur because the person has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to give in to extreme heat.
Summer is what Carteret County is known for. With all the fun in the sun to be had, it's also when the potential increases for heat-related injuries. Heat injuries are preventable. Follow these simple recommendations to stay safe in the summer sun:
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid heavy meals at lunchtime
- Maintain a well-balanced diet
- Wear appropriate clothing
- Use sunscreen
- Follow recommended work/rest cycles
- Keep areas well ventilated
- Schedule outdoor activities during the cooler part of the day
- Use the buddy system
- Monitor those at risk
Extreme Heat: Know the Terms
Heat Wave: Long period of excessive heat, often shared with excessive humidity.
Heat Index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Being in full sunshine can raise the heat index by 15 degrees.
Heat Cramps: Muscular pains and spasms caused by doing a lot of heavy actions. Heat cramps are not the worst. They are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Heat Exhaustion: Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. There is more blood flow to the skin. This causes blood flow to decrease to the main organs. This causes a form of mild shock. If not treated, the person's problems will get worse. Body temperature will keep rising, and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat Stroke: A life-threatening condition. The victim's temperature control system, which makes sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high to cause brain damage and death if the body is not cooled.
Sun Stroke: Another way to say heat stroke.
Excessive Heat Watch: There is a good chance for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria for at least two days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
Heat Advisory: Heat index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for one to two days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).
Ways to get ready for long periods of heat:
- You should make an emergency kit and family communications plan.
- Put in window air conditioners snugly; insulate if needed.
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
- Put in short-term window reflectors for use between windows and drapes, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
- Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers. Outdoor awnings or louvers can lower the heat that comes in a home by up to 80 percent.
- Keep storm windows up all year.
- Listen to local weather forecasts. Stay alert about upcoming temperature changes.
- Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to be harmed by excessive heat and may need help.
- Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for key updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
- Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Think about spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community places. Cool air can cool the body by raising the perspiration rate of water evaporation.
- Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless told to do so by a doctor.
- Drink plenty of water; event if you do not feel thirsty. Stay away from drinks with caffeine. People who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should talk with a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit the number of alcoholic beverages you drink.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover a lot of skin. Try not to wear dark colors because they absorb the sun's rays.
- Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid hard work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take breaks often.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
- Stay away from extreme temperature changes.
- Check on your animals often to make sure that they are not suffering from the heat.
First Aid for Heat-Induced Illnesses:
Extreme heat brings with it the possibility of heat-induced illnesses. The following table lists their illness, their symptoms, and the first aid treatment.
|Sunburn||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.|
Apply dry, sterile dressings to any blisters, and get medical attention.
|Heat Cramps||Painful spasms, usually in leg and abdominal muscles; heavy sweating||Get the victim to a cooler location.|
Lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles to relive spasms.
Give sips of up to half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. (Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol.)
Discontinue liquids, if victim is nauseated.
|Heat Exhaustion||Heavy sweating but skin may be cool, pale, or flushed. Weak pulse. Normal body temperature is possible, but temperature will likely rise. Fainting or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and headaches are possible.||Get victim to lie down in a cool place.|
Loosen or remove clothing.
Apply cool, wet clothes.
Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place.
Give sips of water if victim is conscious.
Be sure water is consumed slowly.
Give half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.
Discontinue water if victim is nauseated.
Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.
|Heat Stroke (a severe medical emergency)||High body temperature (105+); hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid shallow breathing. Victim will probably not sweat unless victim was sweating from recent strenuous activity. Possible unconsciousness.||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, sponging, or wet sheet to reduce body temperature.
Watch for breathing problems.
Use extreme caution.
Use fans and air conditioners.
Learn about the emergency plans that have been made in your area by your state and local government. In any emergency, always listen to the orders given by local emergency management officials.
- National Weather Service
- American Red Cross
- National Integrated Drought Information System
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention