A heatwave of deadly proportions is scorching the Southwest and plains through the weekend. Record-breaking temperatures are expected. California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona will see their thermometers rising to well in excess of 100 degrees. Temperatures in the region are expected to reach approximately 120 degrees in many areas between Saturday and Monday according to USA Today.
Heat stroke is common in these kinds of temperatures. People in these areas should recognize that this extreme dry heat is challenging to their bodies. Residents are urged to increase their fluid intake, avoid alcohol and drink more water, even if staying indoors, but especially for those who will be outside. Citizens are urged to stay indoors as much as possible over the weekend and into Monday. When venturing out take precautions as described later in this article.
The heatwave in the west will be accompanied by a rise in temperatures throughout the United States. Nearly all areas within the continental United States are likely to see thermometer readings well above average for this season. Temperatures in the 90s or higher expected for the South East this weekend with high humidity, that will not be seen in the west. All Americans are at risk for heat stroke, heat stress and other sun and temperature related ill effects this weekend.
Heat stroke is the result of the human body’s core temperature exceeding 105 degrees according to Web MD. With outdoor temperatures exceeding 105 degrees risk of stroke becomes much greater. Physical exertion also intensifies the risk of stroke. When working outside in the great heat, allow more time and take frequent breaks inside if possible or at least in the shade.
During a heatwave, certain conditions, including standing on asphalt, or surrounded by paved surfaces can intensify heat. Poor air quality and stagnant air between buildings can greatly increase the risk. Standing in the sun is, of course, much worse than shady areas, but it is also dangerous if airflow is blocked in an urban area.
Heat stroke symptoms include; throbbing headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, a sudden reduction of perspiration, red hot dry skin, rapid pulse, rapid shallow breathing, confusion, disorientation, staggering gate, seizures, unconsciousness. Call 911 to get help if these symptoms occur. Heat stroke can be fatal.
In heatwave conditions prevention is the key. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities until the weather cools or wait until evening, night or early morning. If it is necessary to go outside wear light colored and lightweight loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat when going outside. Wear SPF 30 sunscreen.
Preventing heat stroke is also largely about hydration, and secondarily about electrolytes in the body. Water, sports drinks and perhaps fruit juice can play a role in reducing heat stress and preventing stroke. Under normal circumstances, at least eight glasses, or at least 48 ounces of water a day are required to maintain good health. In extreme heat, however, that simply is not enough.
During a heatwave, people should drink 24 ounces of fluid two hours before doing exerting work or exercise out of doors. At least eight ounces of sports drink or plain water should be consumed right before going outside. Additionally, while outdoors during a heatwave, whether exercising or not, it is important to drink at least eight ounces of fluid every 20 minutes, 30 or not. Following those recommendations should prevent stroke, but in this weather, it is still a risk.
Knowing heat stroke first aid is vital to survival in these conditions. The most important step though is to call 911 and get the victim to the hospital, but there is much that can be done on site to help. The goal of any first aid steps for heat stroke is to reduce core temperature. Use water and or ice. The colder the better, to immediately reduce the heat. Submersion in an ice bath is ideal, but outdoors, a garden hose or even a container of ice water can be ideal. If the quantity of water is limited, in a remote location, cover the patient with a wet cloth and fan them.
This heatwave should be considered dangerous especially for small children and the elderly as their bodies may react more profoundly to extreme temperatures. The public is encouraged to stay indoors under air conditioning and avoid outdoor activities during extreme weather.
Taking heatwave precautions to prevent heat stroke should keep the public healthy and safe.
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