Avoid heat dangers with precautionary safety measuresPublished 11:10am Wednesday, June 5, 2013
While the arrival of summer prompts many to start enjoying the outdoors, it’s also important to be mindful of the risks of the rising temperature.
As temperatures rise into the nineties, the risk of exhaustion and heat stroke also goes up.
Melissa Poe, director for the Alabama Lakes chapter of the American Red Cross, said it is important to stay well hydrated and wear the proper clothing during the summer months.
“You need to stay hydrated with plenty of fluids such as water, Gatorade or Powerade. You need to avoid anything with caffeine or alcohol,” Poe said. “Also, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing because dark colors attract the sun’s rays.”
Poe added that staying outside in the heat without the proper attire or without being hydrated greatly increases the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
“Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion,” Poe said. “Heat stroke develops when the body’s systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning.”
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, headaches, dizziness and weakness.
Poe said the best thing to do with someone showing heat exhaustion symptoms is to move them to a cooler environment, put compresses on the skin to try and gradually lower their temperature and give them plenty of water.
Signs of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature, red skin which may be dry or moist, changes in consciousness, rapid, weak pulse, rapid, shallow breathing, confusion, vomiting and seizures.
In case of heat stroke, Poe said call 911 immediately.
Poe also recommended staying inside as much as possible during hotter days, and checking up on friends and elderly people who do not have air conditioners.
For those who cannot afford an air conditioner, the Salvation Army has been donating box fans to those in need during the summer.
“We know the heat is coming on and it takes a lot to keep people cool right now. We have had some people that have donated some box fans to us,” said Susan Hardy, manager at Salvation Army’s local office. “People will need to come by and get an application with us so that we see what is going on, and if we can help them, we certainly will supply them with a box fan for the summer time.”
Hardy said the Salvation Army welcomes donations of fans, and all one needs to do is purchase them at local businesses and bring them to the Salvation Army.
For those in need of a fan, Hardy said they can drop by the Salvation Army office.
“They just need to come in and talk to our social services worker Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and let us know what is going on as far as their expenses and things,” Hardy said. “We look at it to see why they need some help. Once we see they are in need, we do our best to help those people and keep them cool during the summer.”
The summer months are also a time to be cautious of high temperatures for pet owners.
Mia Chandler, director of the Lake Martin Humane Society Animal Shelter, said it is important not to leave pets in a vehicle for an extended period of time.
“First, do not leave your pet in a vehicle. The temperature is usually around 40 degrees higher inside than the actual outdoor temperature is,” Chandler said. “A simple 15-30 minutes might not seem like a long time as you are running an errand to the store, but that could be a fatal mistake.”
Chandler also recommended people with outdoor pets provide the animal with drinking water and shelter out of direct sunlight at all times.
If an animal is showing signs of being overheated, Chandler said they should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.
Chandler also recommended seasonal shave downs for pets at a local veterinarian or local groomer, especially for outdoor dogs, in order to help keep the animal cool and comfortable.