August 20, 2013 | Vol. 74 No. 4

Red Cross has tips to stay safe this summer as temperatures rise

With summer in full swing, temperatures can soar. With high temperatures possible in the forecast across Western Pennsylvania, the local American Red Cross offers steps area residents can follow to stay safe during excessive heat.

“Excessive heat can cause numerous safety and health issues, including heat stroke and even death,” said Victor Roosen, emergency services director with the local Red Cross. “We want everyone to stay safe during the hot weather, and we have tips which we encourage community members to keep in mind this week and throughout the summer.”

Never leave children or pets in the car. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Other heat safety steps include:

• Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

• Avoid extreme temperature changes.

• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.

• Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

• Postpone outdoor games and activities.

• Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.

• Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

• Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.

• If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about four ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin.

Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Heat stroke is life-threatening. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke.

Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

For more information on what to do when temperatures rise, people can visit RedCross.org, download the Red Cross Heat Wave Safety Checklist, or download the free Red Cross First Aid. The app is available for iPhone and Android smart phone and tablet users in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

People can learn how to treat heat-related and other emergencies by taking First Aid and CPR/AED training online or in person. Go to RedCross.org/takeaclass for information and to register.

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