Heat Waves

Heat can affect anyone; however, it is more likely to affect your children, elderly people and people with health problems. For instance, people with a medical condition that causes poor blood circulation and those who take medications to get rid of water from the body (diuretics) or for certain skin conditions may be more susceptible. Consult with a physician if you have any questions about your medication may affect your ability to tolerate heat.

What You Should Do:

  • Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated, or re-scheduled to the coolest time of the day. Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
  • Dress for summer. Lightweight, light colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps your body maintain normal body temperatures.
  • Put less fuel in your inner fires. Foods (such as proteins) that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
  • Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • Persons who (1) have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease, (2) are on fluid restrictive diets or (3) have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids.
  • Do NOT drink alcoholic beverages.
  • Do NOT take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
  • Persons on a salt restrictive diet should consult a physician before increasing their salt intake.
  • Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces the danger from heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spending some time each day (during hot weather) in an air-conditioned environment affords some protection.
  • Do NOT get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation much more difficult.

Heat Wave Terms

  • Heat Wave:
    A prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity. The National Weather Service steps up its procedures to alert the public during these periods of excessive heat and humidity.
  • Heat Index:
    A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees F.
  • Heat Cramps:
    Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. They usually involve the abdominal muscles or legs. It is generally thought that loss of water from heavy sweating causes cramps.
  • Heat Exhaustion: 
    Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim's condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer from heat stroke.
  • Heat Stroke:
    Heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled down.
  • Sunstroke:
    Another term for heat stroke.
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