Summer brings heat to Texas like few other places and we want you (and your dog) to be safe.
According to the American Red Cross, heat waves cause more injury than any other weather event. Children, older adults, and those suffering from obesity and other diseases are more at risk of injury.
With Greenville temperatures already in the 90s, it is time to learn how to beat the heat. This means knowing the symptoms of heat injury, what to do about it, and how to prevent overheating in the first place.
How Hot is Hot?
According to the National Weather Service, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” that is important when it comes to how hot we feel. Really, it’s the combination of the two. The combined effect of outside temperature and humidity is called the Heat Index.
Here’s how it works: if it is 100ºF outside and 50% relative humidity, the heat index will be 124ºF (see their table here). In other words, your temperature gauge may say 100ºF but it will FEEL like 124ºF.
Exposure to direct sunlight can also increase the heat index another 15ºF.
Extreme caution is advised for heat indices above 90ºF. Anything over 125ºF is considered extremely dangerous and likely to cause heatstroke.
What is Heat Injury?
Our bodies are pretty good at regulating our temperature around 98.6ºF. When it is cold out and our body starts to cool, we start shivering to generate heat. And when we are hot we SWEAT. Boy do we sweat.
Sweating is our best defense against the heat because it cools us down as it evaporates off our skin. When the heat index is high or we over-exercise, sweating just isn’t enough. Our system can’t keep up, and just like a car, our bodies overheat and start to break down.
The National Institute of Health outlines three stages of heat injury with the following symptoms:
- Muscle cramps, usually in the legs or abdomen
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea & vomiting
- Cool, moist skin
- Hot, dry, red skin
- Shallow breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Fever (104ºF)
If you notice someone experiencing symptoms of heat injury, move them to a cooler shaded area right away. Have them lie down and elevate their feet about 12 inches. Apply a cool compress or cool water to their skin, and if they are conscious, give them water to sip. Cramps can be relieved with gentle massage.
If a person does not respond to these measures, or you see signs of heatstroke call 911.
An Ounce of Prevention
Of course, the best treatment for heat injury is to not get it in the first place. And there is a lot you can do to prevent it. The World Health Organization gives the following recommendations:
Keep Your Home Cool
- Let in cool night air
- Close windows and shades to keep the sun out
- Use air conditioning and fans
Stay out of the Heat
- Keep indoors during the hottest part of the day
- Stay in the shade
- Don’t leave children or animals in parked cars
- Seek out air-conditioned spaces
Cool & Hydrate your Body
- Wear light, loose-fitting clothing
- Take cool showers
- Drink lots of (non-alcoholic) liquid especially before, during and after activity
- Eat small meals
So, Greenville, enjoy the beautiful weather and all the fun outdoor activities in the months ahead. Just remember to grab your hat, a bottle of water, and aim for the shade. That way, you (and Fido too) will surely beat the heat this summer.
Photo credit © Eduardo López via Dollar Photo Club