Monday, July 15, 2013

Heat Wave Safety Precautions from Rhode Island PBS

It's hot. In the Rhode Island PBS viewing area, we have the Ocean State (Rhode Island), the Bay State (Massachusetts), and the Constitution State (Connecticut), which, to force-fit into the theme I'm trying to create here, unless you pay attention to staying cool, you can really mess up your constitution.

So, with these refreshing seaside state mottoes in mind, here are some practical tips for what you should do if the weather is extremely hot, from the National Weather Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of them are just plain common sense, others are important reminders:
  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.
  • Stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine, if air conditioning is not available.
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in air conditioned public buildings such as libraries, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. 
  • Eat regular, light, well-balanced meals and limit your intake of alcoholic beverages. Foods like meats and other proteins increase metabolic heat production and also increase water loss.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you don't feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can make you lose water. People who have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease, are on fluid-restricted diets, or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible. These garments reflect heat and sunlight, and help your body maintain normal temperatures. 
  • Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use the buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
Know these heat disorders and symptoms:
  • Sunburn - Redness and pain. In severe cases swelling of skin, blisters, fever and headaches.
  • Heat Cramps - Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
  • 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's condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke. 
  • Heat or Sun Stroke - A life-threatening condition. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high (106 or higher) that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.
And if it's too hot work in the garden or bake in the kitchen or repair those windows, you can still collect recipes and tips for days with cooler temperatures by watching your favorite gardening, cooking, home repair and travel shows midday on Rhode Island PBS.