REDLANDS, Calif. – According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, approximately 400 Americans die each year due to summer’s
heat and humidity. Furthermore, the National Weather Service declares
that excessive heat was the number one weather-related killer, causing
more fatalities per year than floods, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes,
winter storms and extreme cold from 1994 to 2003.
“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,” explains Phong Nguyen M.D., Medical Director of Emergency
Services at Redlands Community Hospital. “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 illnesses
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 the local emergency
Tips To Stay Safe and Cool During Summer Months:
- Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors
will reflect away some of the sun's energy. It is also a good idea
to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
- Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even
if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate
the body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which increase
- Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity,
do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning
between 4 and 7 a.m.
- Stay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay
on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do
not cool, they simply circulate the air.
- Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on elderly residents in
your neighborhood and those who do not have air conditioning.
General Care for Heat Emergencies:
Heat cramps or heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable
position. If the person is fully awake and alert, give half a glass of
cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly.
Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Remove or loosen
tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. Call
9-1-1 or the local emergency number if the person refuses water, vomits
or loses consciousness.
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. Symptoms of a
person with heat stroke range from:
- Throbbing headache
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Lack of sweating despite the heat
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
Tips to Help Take the Pain Away from Sunburns:
- Aloe Vera is antibacterial and highly effective for burns because it stimulates
the immune system. Aloe Vera gel may be squeezed from the leaves of the
plant, or purchased at most health and drug stores.
- Apply cool, but not cold, compresses and/or take baths for 10 to 15 minutes
several times a day (baking soda in the water may help relieve the pain).
- Apply a soothing lotion to the skin, but don't use petroleum jelly,
ointment or butter; these can make the symptoms worse and do not allow
air in to assist the healing.
- An over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, for
example) may be helpful (but aspirin should not be given to children).
Redlands Community Hospital is an independent, not for profit, stand alone hospital.