When you think of summer time, what it one thing that instantly comes to mind? Warm weather! After dealing with the coldness of winter, it is finally time for some much needed warmth. However, that warm weather can come at a cost to you or someone you care about. Warm weather can cause many problems that are easily avoidable, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and even death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat cramps are usually one of the first signs of a heat related illness. If you notice painful muscle spasms or cramps (especially in the legs or abdomen) accompanied by heavy sweating, then you are mostly likely dealing with a heat cramp. Heat cramps can be followed by heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Each of these heat related illnesses are very serious and should be attended to immediately. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, fainting, weakness, nausea or vomiting, fast or weak pulse, and skin that is cool, pale, and clammy. As for heat stroke, symptoms can include a body temperature that is above 103 degrees, unconsciousness, strong and rapid pulse, and skin that is hot, red, and dry or moist.
One of the most common type of heat related deaths stems from children, pets, or people with limited movement being left alone in a car. While it may not seem too hot outside, the temperature inside the car can soon turn deadly. The National Weather Service recently released an infographic that shows just how quickly the temperature in a car can rise when it is 80 degrees outside:
- After 10 minutes the temperature inside the car is 99 degrees
- After 20 minutes the temperature inside the car is 109 degrees
- After 30 minutes the temperature inside the car is 114 degrees
- After 60 minutes the temperature inside the car is 123 degrees
From 1998 to 2015, there were a total of 661 reported heat stroke related deaths in children because they were left in the car when it was hot outside. Last year alone, it was reported that there were 24 child vehicular heatstroke deaths in the United States. No one should be left unattended in a car at all.
Heat related illness and heat related deaths can be prevented if people take the proper measures. First, if you are outside in the heat, stay hydrated. Dehydration can be the starting point to each and every one of these heat related illnesses. If you are playing or working outside, make sure to take breaks. Take as many breaks as needed to rest and cool down in a shaded area. Lastly, educate yourself on the dangers, symptoms, and first aid response of heat related illnesses.
*A list of appropriate first aid steps can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html.