American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shares valuable information regarding heat waves and tips on how to stay safe during weather with high temperatures.

1. What’s the difference between a heat watch, heat advisory and heat warning?

A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, generally 10 degrees or more above average. An excessive heat watch is when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours. A heat advisory is when the heat index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days – with highs around 100-105 degrees fahrenheit. An excessive heat warning is when the heat index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for at least two days – with highs around 105-110 degrees fahrenheit.

2. How do I prepare for a heat wave?

To prepare be sure to listen to local weather forecasts, be aware of the temperature and heat index, have a plan of action if you think you’re experiencing a heat related illness. Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household.

3. What should I do during a heat wave?

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids – avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol. Eat small meals. Never leave children or pets alone in an enclosed vehicle. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.

4. What are some heat-related illnesses?

People are susceptible to three heat related conditions: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Heat cramps are an early sign that the body is having troubles with the heat. Heat exhaustion is more severe. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion. A heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. A heat stroke develops when the body is overwhelmed by the heat and stops functioning. Signs include extremely high body temperature, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; and seizures.

5. How do you treat heat-related illnesses?

If you’re experiencing heat cramps, get to a cooler place and stretch the affected muscle group. Drink an electrolyte-containing fluid or water. If you’re experiencing heat exhaustion, move to a cooler area and remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. If you’re experiencing a heat stroke, call 9-1-1 because they are life-threatening. Try to rapidly cool the body by immersing the person up to the neck in cold water, if possible.

– Chelsea Weeks

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