Last Updated on Friday, 31 August 2012 22:43
Extreme heat is more than an issue of comfort, it can be deadly!
Child Heat Wave Safety Tips
- Make sure your child's safety seat and safety belt buckles aren't too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.
- Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.
- Teach children not to play in, on or around cars.
- Always lock car doors and trunks--even at home--and keep keys out of children's reach.
- Always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination. Don't leave sleeping infants in the car ever!
Adult Heat Wave Safety Tips
- Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or rescheduled strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, senior and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
- Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
- Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods, like meat and other proteins that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
- Drink plenty of water or other non-alcohol or decaffeinated fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease, are on fluid restrictive diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids. Do not drink alcoholic beverages and limited caffeinated beverages.
- During excess heat period, spend more time in air-conditioned places. If you live in a home without fans or air conditioning, open windows to allow air flow, and keep shades, blinds or curtains drawn in the hottest part of the day or when the windows are in direct sunlight. Try to spend at least part of the day in an air conditioned place like a shopping mall, a store, the library, a friend’s house, or the movies. Cool showers can help, too. Do not use a fan when the air temperature is above 95 degrees - it will blow hot air, which can add to heat stress.
- Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, go to a library, store or other location with air conditioning for part of the day.
- Don't get too much sun. Sunburn reduced your body's ability to dissipate heat.
- Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
Senior Heat Wave Safety Tips
Summer heat is a very real danger to the elderly. Normally, the body controls and regulates higher temperature by allowing heat loss through the skin and by evaporation. But as we age, we lose our ability to control our body’s temperature and to sense temperature extremes. Seniors are even more susceptible to heat related disorders and react to sudden changes in temperature by loosing the ability to cool down. Those with heart, kidney or lung disease, obesity, and diabetes are at even greater risk. They are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration. The following is a list of tips on how to keep seniors safe in higher temperatures.
- Minimize exposure to the sun. Sunburns are particularly dangerous for older adults. Not only because of the risk for serious skin damage, but because seniors are at greater risk for bacterial infections and other complications.
- Be sure the senior has plenty of water, at reach. Encourage seniors to drink at least every 2 hours. Dehydration is constant concern for seniors during hot weather because the ability to sense thirst often diminishes with age. Dehydration can cause dizziness that leads to falls, confusion, or disorientation. Remember: Drink before you feel thirsty, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
- Close blinds on east, west, and south facing windows that receive direct sunlight. This will block out 60 to 80 percent of the sun’s heat.
- Plan activities in the early morning or evening, when the air is cool. Prolonged exposure to excessive heat and humidity can result in heat exhaustion — a serious medical condition which, if untreated, can lead to heat stroke, a life-threatening situation that requires emergency care.
- Understand how sun exposure can effect certain medications. Some prescription medications can have negative side effects if the user has prolonged exposure to the sun or takes part in outdoor physical activities in very hot weather. Certain medications (e.g., anti-psychotics, tranquilizers, antidepressants, and over-the-counter sleeping pills) can impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature or inhibit perspiration under similar conditions. All of these risks are amplified when combined with alcoholic beverages. Seniors should always read the warning labels on medication and check with a physician or pharmacist to avoid harmful side effects.
- Establish a buddy system. Create a set routine where a family member, a friend or a local volunteer checks on the elderly on a daily basis during a heat wave. This is especially important for seniors who suffer from Alzheimer's or dementia. The elderly affected by dementia may be unable to communicate their discomfort or may become confused about their body temperature and require consistent monitoring. Capable seniors should also be proactive and find someone to check on them and monitor their safety/health on a regular basis.
Pet Wave Safety Tips
Excessive heat can be draining for people, but pets are also susceptible to heat-related illness. Like humans, pets cool off by sweating, but they only have sweat glands on the soles of their feet, making it hard for them to cool down. Animals also pant to cool down, but can't if the air they breathe is just as hot as their body temperature. The following are suggestions for safeguarding animals during heat waves:
- Keep water in the shade and make sure it is fresh every day. Secure the water dish to avoid an accidental spill. If possible, have fresh "on demand" water available.
- Hot feet alert! If walking your pet, remember that while paw pads are "tough" they are also sensitive, and can be burned while walking on hot pavement and tar. If possible, walk on grass or dirt, and check your pet's paw pads to make sure there isn't any redness or pain.
- Good grooming is important for a pet's health and comfort. Speak with a groomer or veterinarian to find out what is best for your pet. A full shave may not be the answer, depending on the pet's coat/breed, and caution is advised for white and light-skinned pets getting sunburned.
- Provide shade. If your pet must be outside, make sure that shade is available at all times.
- Avoid exercising your pet strenuously on hot days. If you do go on a walk; take water.