Readiness and Response
5:20 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Surviving Texas Heat: What to do!

With Summer comes heat, (especially in our neck of the woods)! What are the signs of heat illness? What should you do if you see them? Here's a "survival guide" to help you and your loved ones get through this Texas heat.

HEAT DISORDERS

With hot weather, many people take this time to go outside. They get yard work done, go to the pool, play sports and more. But with these activities comes the risk of becoming too hot, which could lead to these types of heat disorders.

Sunburn

  Sunburn can be as minor as redness of the skin, to actually burning/scabbing. It could even go as far as third degree burns, which could  truly be a life or death situtation.

Here are the symptoms of sunburn, and what procedures need to be taken to care for it.

Heat Cramps

Have you ever been outside for awhile, and gotten a cramp in your leg? If you have, it most likely wasn't just a passing cramp. Being overheated can actually make muscles in your body tighten and seize up. If this happens to you, you probably need to take a break, because you are one step closer to heat exhaustion. Here's some safety procedures to help you recover.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a different story. Unlike sunburn and heat cramps, heat exhaustion is much more serious and should be handled accordingly. If you or someone you know is outside for a long period of time, no the symptoms, and follow these procedures.

Heat Stroke (Sun Stroke)
Out of all of these disorders, this can be the most serious. If someone has gone into heat stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. The proper procedures must be taken quickly and carefully in order to keep that person alive. Make sure you understand what these symptoms are, what you can do to help, and how you can prevent heat stroke.

HOW CAN YOU PREVENT IT?

Many precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of getting any of these disorders. You can also reduce the risk for others as well. Follow these simple precautions so that you can keep yourself and others safe.

Think about yourself

Avoid the Heat. Stay out of the heat and indoors as much as possible. Spend time in an air conditioned space. Only two hours a day in an air-conditioned space can significantly reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Shopping Malls offer relief if your home is not air-conditioned. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember, electric fans do not cool, they just blow hot air around.

Dress for the heat. Wear loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored clothing that reflects heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body temperature. Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Avoid too much sunshine. Sunburn slows the skin's ability to cool itself. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

Drink FOR the Heat. Drink plenty of water and natural juices, even if you don't feel thirsty. Even under moderately strenuous outdoor activity, the rate your body can absorb fluids is less than the rate it loses water due to perspiration. However, if you have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restrictive diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.

Do not drink IN the Heat. Avoid alcoholic beverages and beverages with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and cola. Alcohol and caffeine constrict blood vessels near the skin reducing the amount of heat the body can release. Although beer and alcohol beverages appear to satisfy thirst, they actually cause further body dehydration.

Eat for the Heat. Eat small meals more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein because they increase metabolic heat. Avoid using salt tablets, unless directed to do so by a physician.

Living in the Heat. Slow down. Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule strenuous activities such as running, biking and lawn care work when it heats up. The best times for such activities are during early morning and late evening hours. Take cool baths or showers and use cool, wet towels.

Learn the symptoms of heat disorders and know how to give first aid.

Think about others

Do not leave children in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes. This is a "No-Brainer". Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140°F-190°F degrees within 30 minutes on a hot, sunny day. However, despite this common sense rule, deaths from heat occur almost every Summer when someone leaves their child in a closed vehicle.

When outdoors, protect small children from the sun, their skin is sensitive.

Help your pets keep their cool. It will "feel" as hot for them as it will for you. As with children, do not leave your pets in a closed vehicle. Be sure your animals have access to shade and a water bowl full of cold, clean water. Dogs don't tolerate heat well because they don't sweat. Their bodies get hot and stay hot. During summer heat, avoid outdoor games or jogging with your pet. If you would not walk across hot, sunbaked asphalt barefoot, don't make your dog walk on it either. (Dogs can also get blisters on their paws from hot pavement.)

Learn the symptoms of heat disorders and know how to give first aid.

Think about your environment

Protect windows. Hang shades, draperies, awnings, or louvers on windows that receive morning or afternoon sun. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat entering the house by as much as 80%.

Conserve electricity. During periods of extreme heat, people tend to use a lot more power for air conditioning which can lead to a power shortage or outage. Vacuum air conditioner filters weekly during periods of high use.

Keep lights turned down or turned off.

Avoid using the oven.

Learn the symptoms of heat disorders and know how to give first aid.

All of these prevention tips, and safety procedures can help you during this summer here in Northeast Texas, as well as anywhere where there is plenty of heat.

Tune to 88.9 KETR-FM for up to date weather forecasts every hour. Stay safe!

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Contributions to this article came from the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. For more precautionary procedures and safety tips for other weather events, visit their preparedness page.