STAR JOURNAL REPORT
Summer heat waves have been the biggest weather-related killers in Wisconsin for the past 50 years, far exceeding tornadoes, severe storms and floods combined. Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States.
According to Oneida County Health Department Community Health Specialist Meagan Otto, signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea and fainting. To combat those symptoms, Otto says to drink water, cool down and seek medical attention.
Heat stroke indications are when a person has an extremely high body temperature, does not sweat, appears red, hot, has dry skin, rapid pulse and throbbing headache along with dizziness, nausea, confusion and even unconsciousness. Otto says to call 911 and cool the victim with a shower or water hose until help arrives.
To be safe in hot weather, the Oneida County Health Department offers these suggestions:
- Never leave children, disabled persons, or pets in a parked car – even briefly. Temperatures in a car can become life threatening within minutes. On an 80-degree day with sunshine, the temperature inside a car even with the windows cracked slightly can rise 20 to 30 degrees above the outside temperature in 10 to 20 minutes. There have been cases where the inside temperature rose 40 degrees!
- Keep your living space cool. If you have an air conditioner, use it. Cover windows to keep the sun from shining in. If you don’t have an air conditioner you should consider going to a community cooling center. If you stay at home, open windows to let air circulate. At extreme high temperatures, a fan loses its ability to effectively reduce heat-related illness. When it’s hotter than 95 degrees use fans to blow hot air out of the window rather than to blow hot air on your body.
- Slow down and limit physical activity. Plan outings or exertion for the early morning or after dark when temperatures are cooler.
- Drink plenty of water and eat lightly. Don’t wait for thirst, but instead drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid alcohol or caffeine and stay away from hot, heavy meals.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and sunglasses. Add a hat or umbrella to keep your head cool…and don’t forget sunscreen!
- Don’t stop taking medication unless your doctor says you should. Take extra care to stay cool and ask your doctor or pharmacist for any special heat advice.
For more information, visit http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/heat/index.shtml or http://readywisconsin.wi.gov click on the heat awareness section (list of cooling centers)