The Montclair-Glen Ridge-Nutley Red Cross reminds us that 400 Americans die annually due to excessive heat — “more than all other weather events, including tornadoes, floods and hurricanes.” Here’s a list of tips on how to prevent heat illnesses.
* Prepare. Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your
household. Have a plan for what to do if the power goes out.
* Dress for the heat. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored
clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays. It is also a
good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
* Stay hydrated. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously
even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine,
which dehydrate the body.
* Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which
increase metabolic heat.
* Slow down and avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous
activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the
morning between 4 and 7 a.m. Take frequent breaks.
* Stay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available,
stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do
not cool, they simply circulate the air.
* Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on family, friends
and neighbors who are elderly or ill and those who do not have air
conditioning. Check on your animals frequently, too, to make sure they are
not suffering from the heat.
* Learn Red Cross first aid and CPR/AED.
Know What These Heat-Related Terms Mean:
* Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually
occur in the legs or abdomen. They are caused by exposure to heat and
humidity, and loss of fluids. Heat cramps are an early signal that the body
is having trouble with the heat.
* Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people
exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost
through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow
to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If
not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke. Signals of heat exhaustion
include cool, moist, pale flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache;
nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near
* Heat stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is
life-threatening. The victim’s temperature-control system, which produces
sweat as a way of cooling the body, stops working. Body temperature can rise
so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled
quickly. Signals include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness;
rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing.
General Care for Heat Emergencies:
* Heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or
her rest in a comfortable position. If the person is fully awake and alert,
give half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes, and have the person drink
slowly. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths to the
skin. Fan the person. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if the person
refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.
* Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is
needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Move the person to a
cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Wrap wet towels or sheets around the
body. Use a water hose, if available, to cool the victim. Watch for signals
of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the
body. 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.
Red Cross training can give you the skills and confidence to act in an
emergency. For more information contact the Montclair-Glen Ridge-Nutley
chapter at (973) 746-1800 or visit https://montclair.redcross.org.