American Red Cross - Northwest Louisiana Chapter
what these terms mean:
Wave - Prolonged period of excessive heat
- 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.
Cramps - Muscular pains and spasms due to
heavy exertion. They are an early signal that the body is having trouble dealing
with the heat.
- 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.
- 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
- Another word for heat stroke.
heat wave is predicted or happening:
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.
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.
lightweight, light-colored clothing.
Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy.
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
small meals and eat more often.
Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
using salt tablets unless directed to doso by a physician.
of heat emergencies:
Exhaustion - Cool, moist, pale or flushed
skin; heavy sweating; headache, nausea or vomiting; dizziness and exhaustion.
Body temperature may be near normal.
- 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.
of heat emergencies:
- 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.
- 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 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.