Extreme Heat

Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.

Terms

Heat Wave– Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity

Heat Index– A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells you how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature.

Heat Cramps– Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they often are the first signal that the body is having trouble with heat.

Heat Exhaustion– Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer a heat stroke.

Heat Stroke- A life threatening condition. The victims body temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

To Prepare yourself for extreme heat:

  • Install and insulate window air conditioners
  • Check air conditioning ducts for proper insulation
  • Install temporary window reflectors( for use between windows and drapes) 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 or awnings.  Outdoor awnings can reduce the heat that enters a home by 80 percent
  • Keep storm windows up all year.

During a Heat Emergency

  • Stay Indoors and limit sun exposure as much as possible
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sun if air conditioning is not available
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation
  • Eat well balanced light meals, Avoid using salt tablets unless instructed by a physician
  • Drink plenty of water. Persons who have epilepsy or heat, kidney  or liver disease are on fluid restricted diets. or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing fluid intake.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages
  • Dress in loose fitting lightweight and light color clothing that cover as much skin as possible
  • Protect face and head by wearing a wide brimmed hat
  • Check on family, friends or neighbors without air conditioning if they spend much time alone.
  • Never leave children or pets in closed vehicles
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use the buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent brakes.

First Aid

Sunburn- Shower using soap to unblock pores. Oils may prevent the body from natural cooling. Tend to and blisters  with dry sterile bandages. If extreme seek medical attention.

Heat Cramps- Move to cooler location, place bag of ice on affected muscles. give sips of cool  or sugar/ electrolyte drink every 15 minutes. discontinue if nauseated.

Heat Exhaustion- Move to cooler area and lie down. loosen or remove clothing. spray with cool water, cool cloth to neck.  Fan or move to air conditioned area. If conscious give sips of water or sugar/ electrolyte drink  slowly every 15 minutes. If Vomiting occurs seek medical attention.

Heat Stroke- Call 9-1-1. Move to cooler area immediately or to cool water up to the neck. Remove clothing. Use a wet sheet or sponge or bath to reduce body temperature. Watch for breathing problems. Use fans and air conditioners.  Be prepared for CPR. Stop Cooling if feeling better.

Remember that people in urban areas may be at greater risk or a heat emergency. Concrete and asphalt store heat longer and gradually release heat at night producing higher night time temperatures known as ” urban heat island effect

During a heat emergency be prepared to bug in and cool off. If another disaster occurs or even a power outage on a hot summer day you may find yourself in a heat emergency. Preparing for a heat emergency and taking steps to cool your home with also help with the electric bill and over running your AC unit and fans.  If venturing out on a hike or other outdoor activity prepare accordingly. Exertion and extreme heat is a dangerous combination. In Extreme dry heat your sweat may evaporate so quickly that you don’t even know you are sweating. With the sweat gone your body cant cool itself and it will take other measures and more fluids to regulate your body temperature. Frequent breaks in the shade  and wetting clothing will help your body cool down.

Over the summer I was exploring an area on foot. I was told this hike was only 5 miles out and back and packed light with only one canteen of water, a stick of beef jerkey and a cliff bar. The morning was cold, Temperatures in the 40s as i set out on this hike. Then the day started to heat up. By noon the temperature was 103 degrees  in a sandy canyon with little shade from the mid day sun.  I was already 6 miles into the canyon still not finding what I had come to see. I found an over hang and took a rest. I had already gone through most of my water thinking id have a short hike and refill back at the car. I was tired and exhausted and thirsty.  I skipped eating because of the water shortage I took small sips of water wetting my lips and mouth before swallowing. I opened my survival kit on my belt and pulled out some hard candy to give my body some sugar for energy and to keep my saliva going. then I started back. Looking for water and shade but finding none. The hike followed a creek bed but it was bone dry this time of year and digging would only exhaust me more. I was playing a game against time. Sooner or later I would run out of water and with the high temperatures my body would start shutting down. Taking it slow, Over a few hours I had only two miles left tot he car and no water. I was doing well or at least thought I was until I fell and couldn’t get up right away. I was fatigued and starting to become delusional. I needed to do something. I moved to a small over hang of rock and tucked in the small shade left and started digging to expose the cooler dirt under me and I laid there. I laid there for almost an hour until I snapped out of it. As the day grew later the shade grew too. I got up and started trying to make it back to the car stopping every 20 min in a shady spot to cool down until finally getting to the car. I had water in the car that had baked in the sun all day. I first used it to wet my lips and clothes . The area where I parked was at the opening of the canyon and strong winds passed through to help cool me. I had the car running the air conditioning on full blast trying to cool off and slowly sip water until I was feeling much better. Then I started the long drive home.

Prepare for your activities appropriately. Do your own research, I would have prepared better if I knew what I was getting into. Check the weather conditions and study the climate your in. With Flat canyon walls reflecting heat temperatures could have exceeded  110 degrees in the more narrow areas. I have learned my lesson. Be Prepared.

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