Surviving summer heat


While having fun this summer, make sure that the entire family is keeping cool and hydrated so that they don’t get sunburn or worse.

Tips to prevent heat-related illness

  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. A closed vehicle can reach over 60 °C within minutes.
  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light coloured clothing. Light colours reflect away some of the sun’s energy.
  • Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
  • Eat small meals more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein which increase metabolic heat. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by your physician.
  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do it, choose the coolest part of the day which is between 04:00 and 07:00.
  • Stay indoors when possible. Air conditioning provides the safest escape from extreme heat. Clean filters weekly during periods of high use. 
  • Take regular breaks when engaged in physical activity on warm days. Take time out to find a cool place. If some-one is presenting with symptoms of heat-related illness, stop activity and find a cool place.

1. Heat Disorders: Symptoms and First Aid
Sunburn: Redness and pain. In severe cases swelling of skin, blisters, fever, headaches.
First aid: Ointment for mild cases. If blisters appear, do not break them.  If they break, apply dry sterile dressing. Refer serious extensive cases to a physician.

2. Heat cramps: Painful spasms. Usually in abdomen and leg muscles. Heavy sweating.
First aid: Firm pressure on cramping muscle, or gentle massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue sips of water.

3. Heat exhaustion: Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy. Pulse thread. Fainting and vomiting.
First aid: Get victim out of sun. Lie down and loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet clothes. Fan or move victim to air conditioned area. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue sips of water. If vomiting continues, seek medical attention.

4. Heat stroke: High body temperature (41°C or higher). Hot, dry skin, no longer sweating. Rapid and strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness.
First aid: Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Get emergency medical assistance or get victim to hospital a.s.a.p. DELAY CAN BE FATAL. Move victim to cooler environment. Reduce body temperature with cold bath or sponging. Use extreme caution. Remove clothing, use fans or air conditioner. Repeat process if temperature rises again. Do not give fluids.

Sources
http://www.redcross.org/

http://www.weathersa.co.za/

You might be interested in reading about Water Safety.