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American Red Cross - Northwest Louisiana Chapter
Heat Wave
Know what these terms mean:
    Heat Wave - Prolonged period 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 Fahrenheit.
    Heat Cramps - Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. They are an early signal that the body is having trouble dealing with the heat.
    Heat Exhaustion - Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, 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 mild form of shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke.
    Heat Stroke - A life-threatening condition where the victim's temperature control system, which produces sweat 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 quickly.
    Sunstroke - Another word for heat stroke.


If a heat wave is predicted or happening:

    Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do heavy work, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00am and 7:00am.
    Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Try to go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours. Remember, electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate, which cools your body.
    Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy.
    Drink plenty of water and fluids regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heats effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which dehydrates your body.
    Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
    Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to doso by a physician.
Signals of heat emergencies:
    Heat Exhaustion - Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache, nausea or vomiting; dizziness and exhaustion. Body temperature may be near normal.
    Heat Stroke - Hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high -- as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit. If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise it will feel dry.
Treatment of heat emergencies:
    Heat Cramps - Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse.
    Heat Exhaustion - Get the person to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. If the person is conscious, give cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Let the victims rest in a comfortable position, and watch carefully for changes in his or her condition.

    Heat Stroke - Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Immerse victim in a cool bath or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water or is vomiting, or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.