Extreme Heat – Safety Tips from Volunteer Alexandria

by Lee Hernly, Editor

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Ioana Lutai, Emergency Preparedness Manager for Volunteer Alexandria, writes about some important safety tips you can take during extreme heat events.

The “Preparing for Emergency Care of Your Pet” article published last week by Animal Welfare League of Alexandria was GREAT! Volunteer Alexandria, your lead agency for the recruitment and management of unaffiliated volunteers during an emergency, would like to add a few things that might be helpful during these hot days.

Pet owners are advised to carry a photo of themselves together with their pets in case of separation. The picture will show ownership and allow others to assist in identifying your pet. Companies and nonprofit organizations should consider “pet stations” where pets can actually rest in the shade and drink water when organizing outdoor events.

Here are additional tips on what to do and how to stay cool during extreme heat:

  • Stay indoors and try to stay on the coolest level of the house;
  • Drink plenty of water and limit alcoholic beverages;
  • Dress in loose-fitting clothes;
  • Never leave children or pets in closed vehicles;
  • Eat light meals;
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors.

Watch for sickness including Heat Cramps (muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion) can occur in heat. If you see someone experiencing heat cramps, get the person to a cooler location and remove excess clothing. Give cool sports drinks. Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol and seek medical attention if the cramps do not subside in an hour, the victim has heart problems, or is on a low-sodium diet.

In case of heat exhaustion (symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headaches, nausea, fainting) move the victim to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing and cool the victim by placing them in a cool shower or bath, or by applying cool, wet cloths.

Give sips of water or cool sports drinks containing salt and sugar. Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol and seek immediate medical attention if there is no improvement, the victim is unable to take fluids, vomiting occurs, or any symptoms are severe.

In case of a heat stroke, call 911 or the emergency medical services on site. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition where the victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working and the body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Symptoms include extremely high body temperature above 103°F, hot dry red skin, rapid strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, unconsciousness. Until the emergency medical personnel arrive on scene or during transport to the hospital, move the person to a cooler location, cool by removing clothing, bath, sponging, applying a cold we sheet. Do not give the victim fluids to drink.

If you would like to learn more, get trained, or become an emergency preparedness volunteer and be able to train others in various topics such as extreme heat, please sign up at this link and enter in the search field “Become an emergency preparedness volunteer”.

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