...Thursday is National heat stroke awareness day...
Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1250 people died. In the heat wave of 1995, more than 700 deaths in the Chicago area were attributed to heat, making this the deadliest weather event in Chicago history.
North American Summers are typically hot. Even though this Summer has been cooler than normal across a large portion of the eastern United States, several days have still been hot enough to pose a hazard.
(1.) The Hazards of excessive heat
During extremely hot and humid weather, the body's ability to cool itself is affected. When the body heats too rapidly to cool itself properly, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, body temperature rises and heat-related illnesses may develop.
Heat-related illnesses can range from heat cramps to heat exhaustion to more serious heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.
Factors or conditions that can make some people more susceptible to heat-related illnesses include age (young children and the elderly), obesity, fever, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, prescription drug and alcohol use, and sunburn. Sunburn, caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, can significantly retard the skin's ability to shed excess heat.
(2.) Recognizing the symptoms of heat stroke
Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency that can be fatal if not recognized and treated promptly.
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
* altered or confused mental state * possible throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, and shallow breathing * high body temperature (106 degrees fahrenheit or higher) * skin may be hot and dry, or patient may be sweating * rapid pulse * possible unconsciousness
To assist a victim of heat stroke:
* move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment. * Reduce body temperature with a water mister and fan or by sponging. * Use a fan if heat index temperatures are below the upper 90s. * If temperature rises again, repeat the above process. * Do not give fluids.
Tomorrow, we will discuss how quickly the sun can heat a vehicle. We will also review measures on how to keep children safe from heat exposure.
For more information on heat safety, consult the National Weather Service heat safety awareness Page at: www.NWS.NOAA.Gov/os/heat.