Stay Cool This Summer With These Heat Safety Tips
Western Washington broke heat records yesterday when temperatures reached 93 degrees. The ten-day forecast for Auburn gives some relief, but not much. Highs are predicted to linger around the mid to high 70’s, at times reaching 80 degrees.
It’s Getting Hot In Here
Many Auburn homes lack air conditioning, increasing the risk of adverse reactions to the higher temperatures. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year. Some individuals are more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, including infants and children, people with medical conditions, adults age 65 and older, those who work outside, and some athletes.
Medications Can Make You More Heat Sensitive
Some common types of medications can also make individuals more susceptible to the heat. Here are the most common medications that are impacted by increased heat. Always consult your doctor and pharmacist with any concerns or questions regarding any medication you are taking, are newly prescribed or are considering (including over the counter).
- Antibiotics – you should take extra precautions against the sun when taking antibiotics
- Decongestants and Antihistamines (allergy medications) – some medications may constrict blood vessels and make you more susceptible to overheating
- Diabetes medications – Some drugs used to lower blood sugar may increase sun susceptibility
- Diuretics – Certain drugs may increase sun sensitivity and raise the risk of dehydration
- Cardiovascular medications – medications for serious heart rhythm disturbances, and some blood pressure drugs may increase sun sensitivity
- Hormones (oral contraceptives and postmenopausal hormone therapy) –some hormone medications may cause melisma (dark patches on the forehead, cheeks, or chin) in some women. This may be intensified by exposure to the sun’s light and heat.
- Pain relievers – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), celecoxib (Celebrex), and piroxicam (Feldene) may increase the likelihood of serious sunburn. However, acetaminophen (Tylenol) doesn’t.
- Psychiatric drugs – some anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs can increase susceptibility to sunburn and inhibit the body’s ability to sweat
- Drugs for skin conditions – some medications may increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun
- Cancer drugs (chemotherapy) – may increase sun sensitivity
Source: Harvard Health Publishing
- Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- 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.
- Community cooling centers are available in many urban and metropolitan areas. Check with your local county office to locate centers near you.
- If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should seek relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day in places like schools, libraries, theaters, malls, etc.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
- Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
- AE tip: Adding cucumber, zucchini and yes – pumpkin – to your diet during the summer months can help keep you hydrated and cool.
Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. 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 someone 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.
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 immediately if someone 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 app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand and settings for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts including heat advisories and excessive heat warnings. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips including heat-related emergencies. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.
Yes, the Heat is Making You Irritable
Higher temperatures also cause your stress hormone, cortisol, to rise. This causes an increase in tension and irritability. Past studies have also linked hot weather to violence and aggression.
With this in mind, stay mindful and try to exercise a bit of extra patience out there. You don’t know what someone may be dealing with, and the heat may just be compounding things.
Coming Soon: Pet Safety Tips For the Summer