SafetySpeakBlog

This blog is part of the City's Let's Talk Public Safety Program

Jun 30

Stay Safe in Extreme Heat

Posted on June 30, 2022 at 8:30 AM by Deputy Aaron Scheller

Hot Weather Safety Header

When I think of extreme hot weather, I picture a man on his hands and knees crawling on desert sand with sweat dripping from his sunburnt forehead under the sweltering sun with no shade in sight. At least that’s how I feel on a hot California day.  

Sure, I may not be in the medical field, but I am in law enforcement.  And as a law enforcement officer I am trained as a first responder, which includes knowing how to recognize and treat heat-related illnesses. With summer in full swing, I’ll be focusing this month on hot weather safety. 

Heat related illnesses, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, happen when the body is unable to properly cool itself. Usually, our biological cooling mechanism produces sweat to lower the temperature of our body.  However, in some cases, sweating is not enough and leads to serious illness or even death. 

Here are three tips to stay safe during hot days:

First, stay cool.  

Staying in a location that has air conditioning is the way to go.  Malls, public libraries, and movie theaters are a great option. However, I understand staying indoors is not always an option – there are errands to run, appointments to attend, student drop-offs and pickups to take care of, and outdoor chores to get done. So, if you must go out, try to do so early in the morning or later in the evening just before sunset. If you must go out during peak hot hours, dress appropriately: wear clothing that is light, loose, and comfortable to allow air flow so your body heat can escape. Covering your head is also recommended - choose a light-colored, wide brimmed hat with mesh vents.

Second, drink plenty of water.  

Most heat related illnesses can be prevented by drinking enough water.  Your body needs water to protect itself from heat related injuries. Your body loses water through sweat and therefore, it’s important to continue to hydrate throughout the day. Also important to note is that coffee and sugary drinks are not a substitution for water because they dehydrate you even more.  

Third, look for signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses.  

Heat cramps are often a first sign of a heat related illness. It can start as mild cramping in your legs and abdomen but can turn into painful spasming with heavy sweating.  If you feel the onset of heat cramps, you should rest and gently message your muscles while drinking water to allow your body to cool your muscles.  If the cramping continues longer than an hour, you should seek medical attention.  If you are feeling extremely fatigued or nauseated, your skin feels cold and clammy, and you have a fast, weak pulse, it may be an indication that you are experiencing heat exhaustion. In these cases, you should immediately get into a cooler environment (preferably an air-conditioned room), try sipping small amounts of water, apply cool wet cloths on your forehead and pulse points (wrists, ankles, etc.), or take a cool bath.  Heat stroke is the most severe heat-related illness that can be fatal if it goes untreated.  Symptoms include a throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, fainting, and loss of consciousness.  If you think you or someone around you is having a heat stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. 

Cars and Heat Have Deathly Consequences

I’ll close this month's blog with an urgent plea – please, always be considerate and careful with the younger and older members of our family as well as our pets, and never leave them in a hot car – not even to run a “quick” errand. Cars heat up very quickly in the sun, even in the shade. In study after study, research has shown that temperatures inside cars are much hotter than outside – so much that when it is 80-100 degrees outside, the temperatures inside a car are 130-172 degrees! And, no – cracking the windows open does not help. 

There is a video and tip leaflet to go along with this blog – please check them both out and share them with friends and family. As always, if you have any public safety-related questions or concerns or suggestions for topics to cover in this blog, let me know using the Ask a Deputy online form. 

Leaflet

8 Tips to Stay Safe In Extreme Heat artwork copy

Video

Summer Heat Safety Video