By MARY RAINWATER
With temperatures continuing to approach near triple digits, Anderson County Emergency Management officials are encouraging residents to use precautions during these summer months and be prepared for heat emergencies.
“Everyone can enjoy the summer by taking some simple precautions in the hot weather,” Emergency Management Coordinator Tammy Lightfoot said. “Heat can affect anyone, especially young children, the elderly and those with health problems.
“Families and communities can cope with heat-related emergencies by preparing in advance and by working together as a team,” she added. “Knowing what to do is your best protection against heat related injuries.”
The types of heat-related injuries include:
• Heat Cramps — Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion, which can involve the abdominal muscles or legs.
To treat heat cramps, get the person to a cooler place, have them drink plenty of liquids (that do not contain alcohol or caffeine), and rest in a comfortable position.
• 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. As the body cools, blood flows to the skin and away from the vital organs (such as kidney, heart and liver). This results in a form of mild shock.
Again, do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Let the affected person rest in a comfortable position, and watch carefully for changes in their condition.
• Heat stroke — Heat stroke (or sunstroke) is the most serious heat emergency. The body loses its ability to regulate its own temperature.
Classic heat stroke patients may show one or all of these signs: rapid pulse, high temperature and a lack of perspiration. It is life threatening. A person suffering from heat stroke requires immediate medical attention.
Call 911 and move the person to a cooler place immediately. Immerse the person in a cool bath or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan. Watch for signals of breathing problems.
Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If they refuses water, are vomiting, or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give them anything to eat or drink.
The following precautions are urged during the summer months:
• Drink lots of water to help keep you hydrated; avoid too many alcoholic, sugary or caffeinated drinks.
• Slow down and avoid strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day; try to save it for the cooler times in the morning or late evening. When outside during the hot hours, take frequent breaks.
• Stay indoors as much as possible. If AC is not available, stay on the lowest floor of your home and out of the sunshine.
• When you are outside, please wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, hats and sunscreen.
• DO NOT leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle…including your pets.
“The best defense against heat-related illnesses is prevention,” Lightfoot said. “We would like for everyone to have a safe and enjoyable summer.”
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org