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Heat Waves

Heat can kill! Heat can push the human body beyond its limits. 

In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation slows and the body 

must work extra hard to maintain its normal temperature.

Most heat disorders occur when the person has been overexposed 

to heat or has over-exercised for his age and physical condition. 

Older adults, young children, those who are sick or overweight 

are more likely to be affected by extreme heat.

Conditions that can cause heat-related illness include stagnant 

atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. 

People living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects 

of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. 

Asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, 

which can produce higher nighttime temperatures. 

This is known as the "urban heat island effect".

Terms Connected to Extreme HeatHeat Index

♦ A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tell how hot it really feels 

when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature.

♦ Exposure to full sun can increase the heat index by 15 degrees F.

Heat Wave

♦ A prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity.

♦ The National Weather Service steps up its procedures to alert the public during these periods.

Heat Cramps

♦ Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that are due to heavy exertion.

♦ Heat cramps are the least severe stage. 

They signal the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat Exhaustion

♦ Heat exhaustion usually occurs when people work in hot and/or humid places 

where body fluids are lost through profuse sweating. 

It can also occur with heavy exercise.

♦ Blood flow to the skin increases which causes the blood flow to decrease to the vital organs, resulting in a mild form of shock.

♦ If not treated quickly, heat exhaustion leads to heat stroke.

Heat Stroke

Heat Stoke is Life Threatening!

♦ A person's temperature control system stops working. 

This system controls the body's ability to cool the body by sweating.

♦ The body's temperature can rise to a level so high it can cause brain damage.

♦ Death can result if the body is not cooled properly in a timely manner.


Sunstroke is another way of saying Heat Stroke.

Before a Heat Wave

Prepare your Home

♦ If you have an air conditioning system, have the company come 

and check to make sure it is working properly. 

Have them change the filter is necessary and check the ducts for proper insulation.

♦ Install window air conditioning units snuggly and insulate them if necessary.

♦ Remember that hot air rises, so cool and stay on the lower levels of your home.

♦ Install ceiling fans. The more blades the fan has, the more air movement there is.

♦ Use fans. 

Fans do not cool the air, but the air movement helps sweat evaporate, thus cooling the body.

♦ Replace old windows with energy efficient ones.

♦ Make temporary window heat reflectors. 

Cover cardboard templates with aluminum foil (shiny side out). 

Place them between windows and drapes to reflect the heat away from the house.

♦ Weather strip all doors and windowsills to keep the cool air inside, and hot air outside.

♦ Cover your windows that receive morning or afternoon sun. 

Pull your drapes or shades. 

Outdoor awnings or shutters can reduce the heat that comes into the house by up to 80 percent.

♦ Keep your storm window on all year.

♦ Turn off any appliances that emit excessive heat.

♦ Replace old light bulbs with energy efficient ones.

♦ Take a CPR/First Aid class.

During a Heat Wave

Prepare Yourself and Your Family

♦ Stay inside as much as possible. 

If you have no cooling system at all, go to a place that does. 

Some examples are the public library, the movies, the mall; 

any public building where you can stay for several hours.

♦ Slow down. 

If you must do any work outside, try to do it in the early morning before 7 am or so.

♦ Wear light weight clothing.

♦ Wear light colored clothing which will reflect some of the sun's energy.

♦ NEVER leave small children, older people or your pets in the car during a heat wave. 

Even with the windows down, the heat can become overwhelming ... and deadly.

If You Work Outside

♦ Try to stay out of the sun or wear a hat with a visor or large brim.

♦ Take breaks often and drinks plenty of water.

♦ Wear a wet bandanna around your neck. 

Keeping the front of your neck cool (where your carotid arteries are located) 

helps keep the blood flow from the heart to your brain cool. 

Keeping the brain cool and functioning properly helps it to keep 

the rest of the body functioning properly.

Eating and Drinking

♦ Eat small meals several times a day. 

This makes it easier for the body to digest the food. 

Fresh fruits are good for snacks.

♦ Avoid eating foods that are high in protein. 

Protein increases metabolic heat in the body.

♦ Do not take salt tablets, unless directed to do so by your doctor.

♦ Drink plenty of fluids, even if you do not feel thirsty. 

Your body needs fluids to keep itself cool. 

If you get to the point where you are thirsty, your body is already starting to get dehydrated.

Drink lots of water!!! 

Natural juices are good, but do not overload on sugars.

Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate the body. 

Avoid drinking a lot of "energy drinks" and "designer water". 

Check the label for excessive caffeine and sugars. 

These can make the effects of the heat worse. 

This also goes for alcohol, especially beer. 

If you must drink sodas and coffee, double the amount of plain water you drink.

♦ People who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; 

are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention 

should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.

First Aid For Heat Related Illness



♦ Wear sunscreen and reapply as needed.

♦ Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.

♦ Wear a hat with a wide brim.

♦ Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.


♦ Skin redness, pain is possible, swelling is possible, blisters, fever, headache.

First Aid

♦ Get out of the sun.

♦ Take a cool shower. 

Wash gently with a mild soap to remove any products you use which are clogging your pores. 

Clogged pores prevent the body from cooling naturally.

♦ Drink water or juices to rehydrate your body.

♦ If there are blisters, apply a dry sterile dressing and go see your doctor.

Heat Cramps


♦ Heavy sweating

♦ Muscle spasms - which are usually painful and usually in the legs or abdominal area.

First Aid

♦ Get the person to a cooler location, out of the sun.

♦ Lightly stretch or gently massage the affected muscles to relieve the spasms.

♦ Rehydrate the person by having him drink sips of cool water, up to half a glass every 15 minutes. (Do not give ice water! The body needs to cool gradually. Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol. These can all worsen the situation.)

♦ If the person becomes nauseated, or starts to vomit, 

discontinue the liquids and get medical attention.

Heat Exhaustion


♦ Key Words to Remember: Cool, Moist, Pale

♦ The skin will be cool, moist and pale, but may also look flushed at times.

♦ Heavy seating will occur.

♦ The person's temperature may be near normal but is likely to rise.

♦ Also possible: dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, exhaustion and a headache.

First Aid

♦ Have the person lie down in a cool place, out of the sun.

♦ Loosen or remove tight clothing.

♦ Apply cool wet cloths. 

You can use towels or bedsheets. 

Try to use lightweight cloths if possible.

♦ Increase air circulation around the person. 

Use air conditioning if available, and set the temperature at cool, not cold. 

Use a fan, or fan the person with a book or newspaper.

♦ Rehydrate the person by having him drink sips of cool water, up to half a glass every 15 minutes. (Do not give ice water! 

The body needs to cool gradually. 

Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol. 

These can all worsen the situation.)

♦ If the person becomes nauseated, or starts to vomit, 

discontinue the liquids and get medical attention immediately.

♦ Let the person rest in a position that is comfortable.

♦ Watch for any changes in his condition. 

If the situation does not change, or gets worse, get medical attention immediately.

Heat Stroke - A Life Threatening Condition


♦ High body temperature (105 degrees F plus. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees F).

♦ The skin will be hot, red and dry. 

The person will stop sweating.

♦ The pulse will be rapid and weak.

♦ breathing will be rapid and shallow.

♦ Watch for changes in consciousness.

First Aid

Call 9-1-1 Immediately! 

Delay can be fatal. 

At this stage, the person needs advanced medical attention.

♦ Move the person to a cooler location, out of the sun.

♦ Remove all clothing.

♦ To reduce body temperature, apply wet cloths such as towels or bedsheets. 

Keep the covering wet with cool water. 

If available, get the person into a cool tub. 

Do whatever you can to cool the body and bring down the temperature. 

(Do not use ice, only cool water. 

The body is fighting to deal with the heat. 

It cannot handle a drastic temperature change, from extreme hot to extreme cold.)

♦ Use air conditioning or fans to lower the temperature.

♦ Give the person sips of water only if the person is conscious. 

If nausea or vomiting occurs, stop giving water.

♦ Keep the person lying down.

♦ Watch for changes in consciousness and in breathing.

♦ If the person passes out (becomes unconscious) and stops breathing, 

be prepared to give CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation).