Heat Waves

Heat Waves
Heat Waves
Know What These Terms Mean:
Heat wave: Prolonged period of excessive
heat and humidity. The National Weather
Service steps up its procedures to alert the
public during these periods of excessive
heat and humidity.
Heat index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit
(F) that tells how hot it really feels when
relative humidity is added to the actual air
temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can
increase the heat index by 15 degrees F.
Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular
pains and spasms due to heavy exertion.
Although heat cramps are the least severe,
they are an early signal that the body is
having trouble with the heat.
Heat exhaustion: 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 may suffer heat stroke.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is life-threatening.
The victim's 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.
Sunstroke: Another term for heat stroke.
Signals of Heat Emergencies
Treatment of Heat Emergencies
If a Heat Wave is Predicted or Happening
Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you
must do strenuous activity, do it during the
coolest part of the day, which is usually in
the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00
Stay indoors as much as possible. If air
conditioning is not available, stay on the
lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Try to go to
a public building with air conditioning each
day for several hours. Remember, electric
fans do not cool the air, but they do help
sweat evaporate, which cools your body.
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
Light colors will reflect away some of the
sun's energy.
Drink plenty of water regularly and often.
Your body needs water to keep cool.
Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel
Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat
Heat exhaustion: Cool, moist, pale, or
flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache;
nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and
exhaustion. Body temperature will be near
Heat stroke: Hot, red skin; changes in
consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and
rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature
can be very high-- as high as 105 degrees
F. If the person was sweating from heavy
work or exercise, skin may be wet;
otherwise, it will feel dry.
Heat cramps: Get the person to a cooler
place and have him or her rest in a
comfortable position. Lightly stretch the
affected muscle and replenish fluids. Give a
half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.
Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in
them, as they can make conditions worse.
Heat exhaustion: Get the person out of the
heat and into a cooler place. Remove or
loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet
cloths, such as towels or sheets. If the
person is conscious, give cool water to
drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly.
Give a half glass of cool water every 15
minutes. Do not give liquids that contain
alcohol or caffeine. Let the victim rest in a
comfortable position, and watch carefully for
changes in his or her condition.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening
situation. Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or
your local emergency number. Move the
person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the
body. Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap
wet sheets around the body and fan it.
Watch for signals of breathing problems.
Keep the person lying down and continue to
cool the body any way you can. If the victim
refuses water or is vomiting or there are
changes in the level of consciousness, do
not give anything to eat or drink.
emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or
caffeine in them. They can make you feel
good briefly, but make the heat's effects on
your body worse. This is especially true
about beer, which dehydrates the body.
Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid
foods that are high in protein, which
increase metabolic heat.
Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do
so by a physician.
The text on this page is in the public domain. It is from "Disaster Supplies Kit" developed by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross.
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