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How to Handle Extreme Heat

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Extreme Heat CorpYou might be surprised to learn that, according to NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the United States is extreme heat. In fact, illnesses that are caused or made worse by extreme heat — including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease — currently lead to hundreds of injuries and deaths each year. When extreme heat is at its most deadly, it kills by forcing the human body beyond its capacity to cool itself down, slowing the processes by which normal body temperature is maintained.

Unfortunately, the number of heat-related deaths recorded annually is rising. For example, in 1995, 465 heat-related deaths occurred in Chicago. From 1999 to 2010, a total of 7,415 people died of heat-related deaths in the U.S., an average of about 618 deaths a year. And researchers say the number of deaths caused by hot weather in England and Wales could nearly triple by the middle of the century.

In addition to posing potentially life-threatening repercussions at home and abroad, extreme heat is dangerous for a myriad of reasons. In fact, extreme heat can:

  • Overtax the power grid, due to the high demand of electricity for air conditioning units. Due to record-breaking temperatures across much of the state of California, thousands of Southern California Edison customers were recently without power for days.
  • Lead to an increased risk of wildfires. In fact, wildfire season is now much longer — more than two months longer — than it used to be. In fact, in California, many consider fire season to be year round. And experts attribute this to extreme heat.
  • Cause serious sunburns, marked by skin redness and pain as well as swelling, blisters, fever and headaches. More than simply a dermatological issue, severe sunburn can actually reduce the body’s ability to release excess heat and can foster vulnerability to other heat-related illness.
  • Produce heat cramps, which are manifested as painful muscle spasms, usually in the leg and/or abdomen. They are caused by heavy exertion in the heat, which triggers heavy perspiration.
  • Result in heat exhaustion, which is a mild form of shock, marked by heavy sweating; weakness; cold, clammy skin; a weak pulse; fainting, and vomiting. This usually occurs when people have been exercising heavily or working in a warm, humid place.
  • Bring about heat stroke, marked by a very high body temperature (105 degrees or above) as well as hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing.
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Hot Weather Coping Strategies:

  • Cut down on exercise and other taxing activities during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Drink plenty of water. The CDC recommends 2-4 glasses of cool, non-alcoholic liquid every hour. And don’t wait until you are thirsty to start drinking.
  • If you need to be outdoors, rest in shady areas. And dress in light clothing.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
  • If possible, stay indoors.
  • Stay cool but don’t break the bank. Keep your thermostat at 78 degrees during the hottest parts of the day, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, you may need to get out of the house during the hottest times of the day. Visit a cool place such as a library, mall or movie theater.
  • Help conserve natural resources. Try not to use major appliances during peak hours — washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and other heavy appliances.
  • Close the drapes, shades or blinds to keep the direct sunlight from heating your home.
  • Open windows and doors in the morning and evening to help cool your home.
  • Turn off lights and other electrical appliances when not in use.
  • Unplug what the CDC calls “energy vampires,” such as DVD players, microwave ovens, cell phone chargers, computers or anything else that draws energy when not in use.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Don’t ever, under any circumstances, leave people or pets unattended in hot vehicles.
  • In the workplace, along with air conditioning, preventive measures could include more sustainable options such as shading and changes in building insulation and construction materials.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, it saves lives.

Keeping Your Cool – Staying Healthy During a Heat Wave

Monday, July 18th, 2011
bright sun beating on a city

To BE SAFE, prepare for heat waves.

Severe heat waves are not merely a nuisance and a boon for the power company. Extreme heat can cause heat stroke—a serious medical condition that can be deadly, especially for the very young and the elderly. Some summers, such as the summer of 2006, bring on extremely severe temperature highs that can damage buildings and roads and even kill.

The old adage: “It’s the heat, not the humidity” proves to be very true in a heat wave. Humidity is debilitating because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from skin since the surrounding air already contains so much moisture. This is a big reason why air conditioning feels so good…because it reduces the level of humidity.

To manage a heat wave, it’s important to help your body stay cool. One of the best ways to do this is to limit outdoor activities.

Tips for keeping cool in the summer sun:

  • Wear sunscreen, even on overcast days. If your skin gets red from too much heat, you are suffering from sunburn, which will leave you feeling hot and uncomfortable and can lead to permanent damage to the skin.
  • Drink plenty of cold liquids, avoiding alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which can actually dehydrate instead of hydrate you.
  • Shade is your friend. Shady areas can be up to 15 degrees cooler than their sunny counterparts, and will help regulate your body temperature.
  • Take it easy! The middle of a heat wave is the not the ideal time to take up jogging or another form of strenuous outdoor activity.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing to allow your body to expel excess heat. Some people have a difficult time monitoring their own body temperature and might tend to overdress for the conditions.
  • Eat small meals. It’s necessary for your core temperature to rises in order to digest big meals. Focus on frequency instead of quantity.

Identify and manage heat stroke:

  • Body temperatures measure over 105.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Dry skin, rapid pulse and disorientation are all symptoms.
  • For severe cases, immersion in cool (but not cold) water is recommended.
  • Hydration is very important, including use of either cool water or intravenous fluids if the victim is unable to drink.
  • To stave off heat stroke, drink before you start to feel thirsty.
  • Administer first aid to heat stroke victims until their temperature falls in a safe range (101-102 degrees).

Help your family to beat the heat:

  • Get out of the city! Urban areas are heat islands, where the temperatures remain warm even throughout the night. Cities also trap pollutants during heat waves. So plan a trip to a more rural area to escape summer crowds and heat.
  • If you travel to a warm climate, make sure your accommodations and vehicle feature air conditioning.
  • If your home does not have an air conditioning unit, consider going somewhere during the hottest part of the afternoon. Shopping malls, movie theaters and public libraries are all cool summer destinations.
  • Ceiling fans and standing fans don’t technically lower the temperature of a room, but they do create a “wind chill” effect where the body cools itself with a nice breeze.

If you are a building owner:

  • Test your air conditioning system to be sure it can handle the strain of prolonged usage. Clean filters will help the system run at optimal efficiency.
  • Implement the use of compact fluorescent bulbs instead of the heat-producing incandescent variety.
  • Consider adding inexpensive shade structure or fabric to cool outdoor patio areas.
  • When it’s time for new windows, install the tinted variety, which can drastically reduce the heat coming into a building.

Unlike other disasters, you can’t see the heat wave—you can just feel it. However, as with other disasters, preparation and common sense are your best tools for safely managing a heat wave. Keep a close eye on children and other loved ones to be sure they have ready access to resources and helpful information.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.