Wednesday, July 17, 2013

US experiences heat wave: What you need to know to keep safe

US experiences heat wave: What you need to know to keep safe, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports July 17 that more extreme weather, throughout the entire South Central and Central Pennsylvania area, is expected.

Afternoon temperatures will reach the 100-degree mark and there is no relief in sight. July 18 and 19 could see afternoon temperatures of up 104-degrees and a strong cold front from the Great Lakes are expected to produce severe thunderstorms for Saturday, July 20.

With heat index values at 100 and above the strong potential for heal related illnesses is present. Young children and the elderly are often thought of as the main concern when severe weather conditions are in effect. But anyone is susceptible to the life-threatening side effects of unforgiving weather conditions. The most common health concerns during hot weather are dehydration and heat stroke. By taking preventative measures, these life-threatening situations may possibly be avoided. The Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) advises the first preventative measure as the ability to identify the onset of both dehydration and heat stroke.

Signs of dehydration include excessive thirst, less-frequent urination, dry skin, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, dry mouth, increased heart rate and breathing. In children, additional symptoms may include, dry mouth and tongue, no tears when crying, no wet diapers for more than 3 hours, sunken abdomen, eyes or cheeks, high fever listlessness, irritability, and skin that does not flatten when pinched and released. Precautionary measures to avoid the harmful effects of dehydration include drinking plenty of fluids, especially when working or playing in the sun. Make sure that you are taking in more fluid than you are losing and try to schedule physical outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day.

Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness and is a life-threatening emergency. It is a condition that develops rapidly and requires immediate medical treatment The most common symptoms of heat stroke are headache, dizziness, disorientation, agitation or confusion, sluggishness or fatigue, seizure, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty, a high body temperature, loss of consciousness, rapid heart beat, and hallucinations. It is important for the person to be treated immediately as heat stroke can cause permanent damage or death.

There are some immediate first aid measures you can take while waiting for emergency services to arrive. Immediately get the person indoors. Have the person lie down in a cool area with their feet slightly elevated. Remove clothing and gently apply cool water to the skin followed by fanning to stimulate sweating. Apply ice packs to the groin and armpits. Precautions that can help protect you against the adverse effects of heat stroke include drinking plenty of fluids during outdoor activities, (water and sports drinks are the drinks of choice; avoid tea, coffee, soda and alcohol as these can lead to dehydration), wear lightweight, tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing in light colors.

Most importantly when aiming to prevent heat related illnesses is to schedule vigorous activity and sports for cooler times of the day. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses and using an umbrella. Increase time spent outdoors gradually to get your body used to the heat. During outdoor activities, take frequent drink breaks and mist yourself with a spray bottle to avoid becoming overheated.

Children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. This is especially true during hot weather when car interiors can reach lethal temperatures within minutes. Residents should check up on elderly relatives and neighbors. Also, please remember to provide pets with adequate water and shelter from the sun.

*Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included in this article is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider.
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Title: US experiences heat wave: What you need to know to keep safe
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