Friday, August 2, 2013

Keep Your Cool

You may already be thinking about the fall, but the summer isn’t over yet. We can probably expect a few more weeks of scorching heat, so here’s what you need to know. The CDC reports that there are nearly 400 heat-related deaths in the United States every year. It can be hard to beat the heat, but here are a few tips to help you keep your cool:

·    If you must work outside, try to do so during the early morning when it is coolest
·    Take frequent rest and water breaks in a cool area, drinking enough water so you never become thirsty (about 8 ounces or 1 cup every 15-20 minutes)
·    Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing such as cotton and avoid non-breathing synthetic clothing
·    Avoid alcohol and drinks that have large amounts of caffeine or sugar

Although we should all take precautions to stay cool during the summer, certain people are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses: infants and children less than 4 years old, adults over 65 years old, anyone who is overweight, anyone with a chronic disease such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and people taking certain medications (check with your doctor or pharmacist).  
 The two major types of heat-related illness are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body has lost significant amounts of water and salt through excessive sweating.
Some warning signs you might see include:

·         Heavy sweating
·         Extreme weakness or fatigue
·         Dizziness
·         Confusion
·         Nausea
·         Headache
·         Either paleness or flushing
·         Muscle cramps
·         Fast, shallow breathing
·         Elevated body temperature

If you should see this happening to someone, you should move them to a cool area, bring them plenty of cool water to drink, and encourage them to take a cool shower or bath.

Heat stroke is much more serious. It happens when the normal sweating mechanism fails and the body can no longer keep itself cool. When this occurs, body temperature becomes dangerously high within 10 to 15 minutes. Some warning signs you might see include:

·         Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
·         Chills
·         Throbbing headache
·         Nausea
·         A rapid pulse
·         A very high body temperature (above 103°f)
·         Dizziness
·         Confusion
·         Slurred speech
·         Hallucinations
·         Unconsciousness

If you should see this happening to someone, you should immediately call 911 and get help. You need to move the person to a cooler area and cool them rapidly using whatever means you can. If you’re out in the yard, you can spray them with cool water from a garden hose. If you move inside, you can immerse them in a tub of cool water. If possible, you should monitor their body temperature and continue cooling efforts until their temperature drops below 101-102°F or until emergency medical personnel arrive. Do not give the person fluids to drink unless directed to do so by emergency medical personnel.

Your mission is to use this information to care for our church family, your own neighborhood, and the surrounding community. Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and share this information with others. Keep an eye on your neighbors, especially those who spend a lot of time gardening or mowing their lawn. Encourage children to drink lots of water and to take frequent breaks when they play outside. This is especially important if you are responsible for organizing or coaching any outdoor sports teams. Athletes and coaches are both susceptible to the heat and should take proper precautions to ensure everyone’s safety and health. Never leave children or pets alone in the car, even with the windows cracked, because temperatures can increase by 20°F in as little as 10 minutes. If any service workers come to your home (landscapers, roofers, pest control workers, etc), show them your hospitality. Offer them a cool drink and an opportunity to come inside when they take their breaks. Have compassion on the homeless, who often suffer in the extreme heat without any refuge or relief. Consider keeping a case of bottled water in your car so you can provide them with something to drink.

For more information, visit the CDC's web page of Frequently Asked Questions about extreme heat.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

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