Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the “urban heat island effect.”
The following are guidelines for what you should do if the weather is extremely hot:
• Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
• Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
• Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
• Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
• Drink plenty of water. Persons 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.
• Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
• Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
• Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
• Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
• Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
• Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
Extreme heat brings with it the possibility of heat-induced illnesses. The following table lists these illnesses, their symptoms, and the first aid treatment.
Sunburn - Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches.
• Take a shower using soap to remove oils that may block pores, preventing the body from cooling naturally.
• Apply dry, sterile dressings to any blisters, and get medical attention.
Heat Cramps - Painful spasms, usually in leg and abdominal muscles; heavy sweating.
• Get the victim to a cooler location.
• Lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles to relieve spasms.
• Give sips of up to a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. (Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol.)
• Discontinue liquids, if victim is nauseated.
Heat Exhaustion - Heavy sweating but skin may be cool, pale, or flushed. Weak
pulse. Normal body temperature is possible, but temperature will likely rise. Fainting or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and headaches are possible.
• Get victim to lie down in a cool place.
• Loosen or remove clothing.
• Apply cool, wet cloths.
• Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place.
• Give sips of water if victim is conscious.
• Be sure water is consumed slowly.
• Give half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.
• Discontinue water if victim is nauseated.• Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.
Heat Stroke (a severe medical emergency) - High body temperature (105+); hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Victim will probably not sweat unless victim was sweating from recent strenuous activity. Possible unconsciousness.
• Call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services, or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
• Move victim to a cooler environment.
• Remove clothing.
• Try a cool bath, sponging, or wet sheet to reduce body temperature.
• Watch for breathing problems.
• Use extreme caution.
• Use fans and air conditioners.