Red Cross provides tips to stay cool during heat waves - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Red Cross warns of heat wave dangers

(Toledo News Now) -

A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, generally 10° or more above average, often combined with excessive humidity.

The Red Cross wants everyone to understand the common weather terms used when a heat wave hits:

-Excessive Heat Watch: Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.

-Excessive Heat Warning: Heat Index values are forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least two days (daytime highs are 105-110°F).

-Heat Advisory: Heat Index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for one to two days (daytime highs are 100-105°F).

The following preparations are suggested during heat waves:

-Listen to a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).

-Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.

-Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

-Eat small meals and eat more often.

-Avoid extreme temperature changes.

-Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun's rays.

-Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

-Postpone outdoor games and activities.

-Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.

-Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.

-Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

-Check on your animals frequently to ensure they are not suffering from the heat.

During heat waves, people are susceptible to three heat-related conditions.

The Red Cross offers the following tips on how to recognize and respond to the conditions:

-Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and gently massage the area. Give an electrolyte-containing fluid, such as a sports drink, fruit juice or milk. Water may also be given. Do not give the person salt tablets.

-Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. It often affects athletes, firefighters, construction workers and factory workers. It also affects those wearing heavy clothing in a hot, humid environment.

Signs of heat exhaustion:

-Cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin

Move the person to a cooler environment with circulating air. Remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fanning or spraying the person with water can also help. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of a cool fluid, such as a sports drink or fruit juice, to restore fluids and electrolytes. Milk or water may also be given. Give about 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes.

If the person's condition does not improve, or if he or she refuses water, has a change in consciousness, or vomits, call 911 or your local emergency number.

-Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and stop functioning.

Signs of heat stroke:

-Extremely high body temperature
-Red skin, which may be dry or moist
-Changes in consciousness
-Rapid, weak pulse
-Rapid, shallow breathing

Remember, heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

The preferred method to treat heat stroke is rapidly cooling the body by immersing the person up to the neck in cold water, if possible ,or spraying the person with cold water. Sponge the person with ice water-doused towels over the entire body, frequently rotating the cold, wet towels. Cover the person with bags of ice.

If you are not able to measure and monitor the person's temperature, apply rapid cooling methods for 20 minutes, or until the person's condition improves.

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