Despite our “Polar Vortex” cooler weather recently, the dangerously hot weather of Missouri is predicted to return and the American Red Cross reminds everyone of the steps they should take to stay safe.
“Missourians need to be weather aware and take action as temperatures rise, “ said Nigel Holderby, Communication officer for the Southern Missouri Region of the American Red Cross. “There are steps people can take to stay safe and beat the heat.”
During 2012, 155 people died as a result of extreme heat nationally – and Missouri topped the states with 34 heat deaths, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A permanent house with little or no air conditioning was the most dangerous place to be where 84 (54 percent) of the deaths occurred. Those most at risk were male adults over 50 years of age. Of the total deaths nationally, 117 were over 50 and 99 were male.
- Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
- Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
- Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
- Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Ensure they have water and a shady place to rest.
- Eat small meals and eat more often.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
HEAT CAN BE DANGEROUS Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To help avoid problems, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and limit drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.
If a person is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
HEAT STROKE IS LIFE-THREATENING. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately if some shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.
The Red Cross also has steps pet owners should take to keep their furry friends safe during hot weather.
Red Cross training can give someone the skills and confidence to act in an emergency. For more information contact the Southern Missouri Region at 417-832-9500 or visit www.redcross.org.
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visitredcross.orgor visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.