The American Red Cross reminds community to stay safe during extreme heat

Learn how to treat heat-related illness like heat exhaustion

This week, much of South Carolina will experience dangerously high temperatures. Extreme heat is deadly and kills more people than any other weather event. The American Red Cross shares tips for what to do during extreme heat, and how to prevent and recognize the signs of heat-related illness.

“Extreme heat events are becoming more frequent, more severe, and last longer,” said Rod Tolbert, CEO of the Red Cross of South Carolina. “But we can take action to prepare. Prepare now to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

What To Do During Extreme Heat

Stay Hydrated: You need to drink enough water to prevent heat illness. An average person needs to drink about 3/4 of a gallon of water daily. Everyone’s needs may vary.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Encourage others to drink plenty of fluids, too.
  • You can check that you are getting enough water by noting your urine color. Dark yellow may indicate you are not drinking enough.
  • Avoid sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks.
  • If you are sweating a lot, combine water with snacks or a sports drink to replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.

Stay Cool: Do not rely only on electric fans during extreme heat. When temperatures are in the high 90s, fans may not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.

Spending a few hours each day in air conditioning can help prevent heat illness.

  • If you have air conditioning, be sure that it is in working order.
  • If you do not have air conditioning or if there is a power outage, find locations where you can stay cool. For example, a public library, shopping mall, or a public cooling center. Plan how you will get there.
  • Make sure you have plenty of lightweight, loose clothing to wear.
  • Limit your outdoor activity. If you must work outdoors, schedule tasks earlier or later in the day.
  • Create a support team of people you may assist and who can assist you. Check in with them often to make sure that everyone is safe.

Prevent Heat Illness

Check on your friends, family, and neighbors. Help them prevent heat illness. Act fast if you notice someone with symptoms. Anyone can develop heat illness. But, people at greater risk are:

  • Older adults
  • Infants, children and pregnant women
  • People with medical conditions
  • Outdoor workers
  • People with limited personal resources
  • People living in places that lack green spaces

How to Treat Heat-Related Illnesses

During heat waves people are susceptible to three heat-related conditions. Here’s how to recognize and respond to them.

Heat Cramps: Heat Cramps are muscle spasms caused by a large loss of salt and water in the body.

What to look for: Heavy sweating with muscle pain or spasms

What to do:

  • Move to a cool place.
  • Drink water or a sports drink
  • Get medical help right away if:
  • Cramps last longer than 1 hour
  • Person affected has heart problem

Heat Exhaustion: Heat Exhaustion is severe and may require emergency medical treatment.

What to look for: Heavy sweating, Cold, pale and clammy skin. Fast, weak pulse, Nausea or vomiting, Muscle cramps, Tiredness or weakness, Dizziness-Headache-Passing out

What to do:

  • Move to a cool place
  • Loosen tight clothing
  • Cool the body using wet cloths, misting, fanning, or a cool bath
  • Sip water slowly
  • Get medical help right away if:
  • Vomiting occurs
  • Symptoms last longer than 1 hour or get worse
  • Confusion develops

Heat Stroke: Heat Stroke is deadly and requires emergency medical treatment.

What to look for: High body temperature (104°F or higher), Hot, red, dry or damp skin, Fast, strong pulse, Headache-Dizziness, Nausea-Confusion-Passing out

What to do:

  • Call 911 right away, then:
  • Move to a cool place
  • Cool the body using wet cloths, misting, fanning, or a cool bath
  • Do NOT give the person anything to drink

Accidents and Emergencies Happen

The Red Cross has several resources to help people learn how to treat bee stings, burns, and heat emergencies, including online and in-person training courses, a free First Aid app, and a First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.

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