Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Heat Has Returned

If you've been outside the last couple of days you may have noticed how hot it's been lately. Forecasters are saying the current heat spell, with temperatures well in the upper 90's, will unfortunately be around for a few more days.

This summer has been relatively cool compared to previous years, but it's always safer to take precautions when spending time outside during hot and humid conditions.  The elderly and infants are particularly vulnerable, as are those working or exercising outdoors.

The City of Overland Park has two cooling centers available during business hours:

Matt Ross Community Center 8101 Marty St. 913-895-6390

Tomahawk Ridge Community Center
11902 Lowell St. 913-327-6645

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross to recognize and treat heat-related symptoms:

Heat Exhaustion

This condition is the result of excessive heat and dehydration. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

• Fatigue
• Dizziness
• Muscle aches and cramps
• Nausea
• Slowed or weakened heartbeat
• Headaches
• Excessive thirst
• Weakness
• Confusion or anxiety
• Fainting
• Agitation
• Drenching sweats, often accompanied by cold, clammy skin

The American Red Cross recommends the following steps for treating heat exhaustion:

• Get the person out of the heat and into 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 victim rest in a comfortable position, and watch carefully for changes in his or her condition.

Heat Stroke  

This is the most severe form of heat illness. It is an elevated body temperature condition that can be fatal if not promptly and properly treated! Symptoms of this illness include:

• High body temperature
• The absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin
• Rapid pulse
• Difficulty breathing
• Strange behavior
• Hallucinations
• Confusion
• Agitation
• Disorientation
• Seizure
• Coma

The American Red Cross recommends the following steps for treating heat stroke:

• Call for an ambulance! Help is needed fast.
• 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.

Remember that heat stroke can lead to death if not treated effectively and quickly!