We are in that time of year when we want to work and play outside all day. The sky is clear and there is a gentle breeze, but hidden danger can be lurking around the corner-heat stroke. It never fails. People do not take proper precautions to prevent heat strokes and it could cost them, dearly. In July of 2012, the Alabama Department of Health reported 650 illnesses or deaths resulting from heat strokes. It’s not just adults; the children’s safety network reports that an average of 38 children each year die from heat related causes because they were left in the car.
Here are some things you need to do to prevent a heat stroke.
• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won't allow your body to cool properly.
• Wear light-colored clothing if you're in the sun. Dark clothing absorbs heat while light-colored clothing can help keep you cool by reflecting the sun's rays.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.
• Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat-related problems if you take medications that can affect your body's ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.
Here are some of the warning signs that someone might be suffering from a heat stroke:
• high body temperature
• a lack of sweating
• nausea and vomiting
• flushed skin
• rapid breathing
• racing heart rate
If you suspect someone has had a heat stroke, first call 911.Then try to cool the person’s body temperature by using cold compresses or by running cool water over their body.
People are not the only one to suffer from heat strokes. Your pet can too. We think of pets as outdoor animals and for the most part they can tolerate some extremes in the weather, but not all pets are bred to handle all climates. If you have a dog or a cat that has a lot of fur, you would want to keep them inside on the days where we have temperatures in the 90+ degree range and high humidity. Remember, your pet wants to be with you but it’s your responsibility to not put them in harm’s way. If you want go running in the heat, go for it, but leave your pet at home.
So what do you do if you are dealing with a pet that has suffered a heat stroke? It is not the same process for people. First, get your pet out of the sun and heat. Begin cooling the pet by laying them in a bathtub on their stomach. If you are unable to get them in the bathtub, place cool, wet towels on their paws but do not cover them in wet towels as this could trap the heat in. Do not use ice packs on your pet, as this contraction of the blood vessels could cause the body temperature to rise.
Let’s use a little common sense and not put our pets, our children, or ourselves in situations where we could suffer from a heat stroke or other heat-related illness.
By Brian Black, Operations Manager of Madison Security Group
203 Us Highway 31 S, Athens, AL 35611