Summer Heat Safety
The greater St. Louis area has been experiencing a heat wave over the past week, with daily heat index values consistently reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more. The extreme temperatures are showing no signs of abating, which can be a danger to you and your family if you are not practicing heat safety.
Those particularly vulnerable are those at risk for heat-related stress and illness, such as the very young, the elderly, those without air conditioning systems, and those participating in strenuous outdoor activities. Read on for tips on how to keep you and your family safe in the summer heat.
- Drink plenty of water. Don't wait until you're thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol, as these could actually increase dehydration.
- Do not leave children or pets in parked vehicles. A vehicle on a hot day acts like a greenhouse. Temperatures inside of a closed vehicle can reach 140 to 190 degrees within minutes.
- Avoid going out during the hottest part of the day. The temperature usually peaks between 3 pm and 4:30 pm in the afternoon. Schedule your activities early in the morning or later in the evening if possible.
- Stay indoors as much as possible to limit exposure to the sun. Keep your shades drawn and blinds closed.
- If you do go outside, wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Avoid darker colors because they will absorb the sun's rays much more readily. Make sure that you apply sunscreen to any exposed portions of your body.
- If you do not have access to air conditioning, consider going to a public place such as a library, movie theatre, shopping mall, or other community facility. Spending even just a couple of hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce the chance of heatstroke.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system between co-workers in high heat-stress jobs to ensure that signs of heatstroke do not go unnoticed.
- Regularly check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at high-risk. Namely, those without air conditioning and the elderly, as well as those who work or exercise in high heat-stress environments.
- Check on your pets frequently. Animals will need plenty of shade and water to avoid dehydration. If possible, keep them indoors when it is extremely hot.
- Know the signs of heatstroke. Symptoms can include dizziness, light-headedness, headache, muscle weakness or cramps, rapid or shallow breathing, dry mouth, disorientation, and red, hot, and dry skin (including a noticeable lack of sweating despite the heat). If you suspect that you or someone else is undergoing heatstroke, it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention. Delay could be fatal.
As long as you follow these safety tips, you will greatly decrease you and your family's risks in the hot summer weather. Be prepared and you can enjoy a fun, safe, and happy season in the summer sunshine!