BIRMINGHAM, Ala., June 29, 2012 — Heat waves are in full force this summer, and the Alabama Red Cross urges residents to take precautions when exposed to high temperatures.
According to the National Weather service, excessive heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity. Generally temperatures are about 10 degrees higher than normal on average, which can be very dangerous.
Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, but the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended. Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches. Victims of heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin. If a victim refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.
With estimated highs for Alabama being above 100 for the next week, the Alabama Red Cross wishes for people to remember the dangers associated with these high temperatures, and the precautions they should take to avoid injury. "Our biggest concern is for the safety of the community, and we hope that through educating people about the proper precautions concerning heat waves of this magnitude we can prevent emergencies from arising," said Chris Osborne, Public Affairs Officer for the Alabama Red Cross.
Red Cross Heat Safety Tips:
Know What These Heat-Related Terms Mean:
General Care for Heat Emergencies:
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. 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.
For more information on heat safety, visit www.redcross.org.