Summer weather and heat stress|
Posted 8/14/2012 Updated 8/16/2012
by Tech. Sgt. James Fountain
17th Training Wing Safety Office
8/14/2012 - GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- Summertime can bring a range of weather challenges and potential dangers. Some of these threats can occur with little warning, so do what you can to prepare by assembling an emergency kit and forming a plan of action.
· Lightning: In the U.S., lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes and hurricanes. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance and should seek shelter in an enclosed building or vehicle. While indoors, don't use a corded phone, a computer or other electrical appliances; and avoid contact with plumbing (don't shower, wash hands, do laundry, etc.).
· Floods: If you have time, move essential items to an upper floor. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. Do not walk through moving water six inches or higher. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground.
· Hurricanes: If you can't evacuate, get inside and secure external and internal doors. Stay away from windows and doors and take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
· Tornadoes: Storm cellars and basements are the safest locations, but if they aren't available, go to an interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level. Stay away from windows, mirrors, doors, outside walls and corners. If you are in a trailer or mobile home, go to a sturdy, nearby building.
· Extreme Heat: Stay indoors as much as possible. Consider spending the hottest part of the day in an air-conditioned public building, such as a library or shopping mall. Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles.
· Wildfires: If your home is threatened by a wildfire, you must evacuate. If you have time, bring an emergency kit that includes copies of important documents.
· Earthquakes: If you are indoors, stay away from windows, doors and outside walls and get under a sturdy table or desk. If you are outside, keep away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires. If you're in a moving vehicle, safely stop the vehicle in an open area and stay inside.
Be sure to check out http://www.ready.gov/ for more information on weather dangers.
During the summer months, it is very important to keep in mind what can happen when you are exposed to hot weather over long periods of time. It averages in the upper 90s during summer days, so it is important to be prepared. Heat stress is when your body becomes overheated and cannot sustain appropriate body temperatures. By knowing and avoiding risk factors, you and others around you can prevent heat stress. Some risk factors, symptoms and prevention tips on how to reduce and eliminate heat related illnesses include:
· High temperature and humidity
· Direct sun exposure and no breeze or wind
· Low liquid intake
· Heavy physical labor
· Waterproof clothing
· No recent exposure to hot work places
Additionally, it is necessary to know the symptoms of heat related illnesses, so if a situation should arise you know what it is and what to do about it. Your body can become over exhausted at any time and sometimes without warning. Some signs and symptoms of heat stress are:
· Headache, dizziness or fainting
· Weakness and wet skin
· Irritability or confusion
· Thirst, nausea or vomiting
· Unable to sweat
If a person shows signs and symptoms of heat stress, seek medical attention immediately, put the victim in a cool place and try to cool them down by any available means. Staying alert and recognizing early signs can help prevent or reduce the chance of heat related illness. Anytime you are out in the sun for an extended period of time, be prepared and know how to prevent heat stress.
Tips on how to prevent heat related illnesses:
· Know the signs and symptoms and monitor yourself
· Block out direct sun and other heat sources
· Drink plenty of fluids. Thirst is a sign of dehydration, so drink even if you're not thirsty
· Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine
· Wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothes
By being prepared, knowing the risks and symptoms and how to prevent heat stress, you can continue to have a safe and healthy summer.