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Jul 22

Heat Safety Tips

Posted on July 22, 2022 at 10:01 AM by Bridget Craker

One of the wonderful things about living in Wisconsin is that we get to experience the four seasons and all the changes in the weather and the environment that comes with each season. But, we also experience the inevitable health and safety concerns that come with the changing seasons. Summertime has quite a few seasonal changes that can pose a threat to health – insects, storms, flooding, and today’s topic, heat.

As we head into July, we still have a few months of hot weather ahead. Temperatures don’t need to be extremely high to make people sick, even on days when the temperature is in the 80s people can still overheat. Extreme heat can worsen asthma symptoms for people with asthma and can lead to heat-related illnesses. In extreme cases, heat can be deadly.

Heat cramps, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion are caused by hot temperatures and can be dangerous. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of these illnesses, and what to do if you or someone around you starts getting sick.

Signs of heat cramps include muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs; and signs of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, fast or weak pulse, dizziness, headache, fainting, nausea, vomiting. If you notice either of these conditions be sure to move to a cooler location and remove excess clothing. You should also take sips of a sports drink or water. If symptoms get worse or don’t resolve within an hour call your doctor.

Heat stroke is more serious and can include symptoms like extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees F), hot and dry skin with no sweat, rapid pulse, dizziness, confusion, or unconsciousness. If you suspect you or someone else is having a heat stroke call 9-1-1 or get to a hospital immediately. Attempt to cool down until medical help arrives. Do not give the person anything to drink.

Certain people are more susceptible to the negative impacts of extreme heat. Older adults, people who work outside, and people who play sports outside are all more likely to get sick from the heat.

There are steps we can all take to avoid health-related illnesses or injuries. This summer be prepared for hot weather, and keep these recommendations in mind.

If you’re a driver/vehicle owner be cautious when you exit your vehicle, especially if you have young kids or pets. Never leave people or pets in a car on a hot day.  When you park and open your door, check your back seat before leaving the vehicle. Cars can get very hot, very quickly in the summer.

When you’re going to be spending time outside on a warm day, try wearing light-weight, loose, light-colored clothing. Avoid being outdoors in the middle of the day, and aim to complete your activities in the morning or the evening. Be sure to have water with you, and remember to stay hydrated. If you’re able to, try finding or creating shade from the sun.

If you don’t have air conditioning where you live, consider finding a location with air conditioning to spend some time on hot days; whether that is with a friend or family member, or a public place like a library, a church, or a city/village hall. Be sure to call the organization ahead to make sure they are open. In the past, Green County has had designated cooling centers, but these centers were not being utilized. Cooling centers are daytime places where folks can go to cool off, they are not a shelter and don’t have amenities such as food or water. In the event of a widespread power outage that may last for many hours, a shelter may be opened. If a person has no other resources and they urgently need assistance dealing with the heat, they should call their local police department or sheriff’s department for help.

Lastly, make sure to check in on friends, loved ones, and neighbors during heat waves. Be especially sure to check on older adults or those who are ill, and get them to an air-conditioned space during very hot days.