Summer is here and with it is the potential of brutal heat waves that make it so miserable, it can literally take your breath away. Temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit are not only uncomfortable, they can be downright dangerous, especially for the very young or the elderly in our community.
Weather forecasters may issue heat-related weather warnings. A Heat Advisory means that temperatures may reach 100 – 105 degrees in the next 72 hours. An Excessive Heat Warning indicates heat index values in the 105 to 110-degree range within the Warning region.
The hottest temperature ever recorded was right here in our state of California. On July 10, 1913, it was a sizzling 134 degrees Fahrenheit in Furnace Creek, located in Death Valley.
Luckily, here in Anza, we should not have to experience anything so oppressive. But the temperatures in the triple digits are still a concern, especially from a health standpoint.
Heat-related injuries can seem harmless enough, but too much sun and an overheating body can spell disaster and even death.
Sunburn is usually a real first-degree burn that injures the top layers of skin exposed to the damaging rays of the sun. This can result in redness and intolerable pain. Severe sunburn can even cause swelling, fluid-filled blisters, fever and headaches. Ointments, cool baths or compresses may help relieve sunburn. Drinking plenty of water helps the body recover.
Heat cramps are another overheating illness and usually related to dehydration. Symptoms include increased sweating and painful muscle spasms of the arms, legs and sometimes the abdomen. People have even reported cramps of the hands and back muscles. The treatment involves removing the person from the heat, offering lots of water and gently massaging the tightening muscles to relieve the spasms.
Heat exhaustion is the inability to sweat enough to cool the body efficiently. Extreme fatigue, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting as well as cold, clammy, pale, red or flushed skin indicates heat exhaustion. It is very important to immediately find a cool spot for the victim, loosen clothing and apply cold compresses. A doctor may need to be consulted of any vomiting continues as the person is cooled.
Heatstroke is the worst heat-related event that can threaten a person’s well-being. It happens when the body is so stressed that it stops sweating but the body temperature continues to rise. Hallucinations, headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion and eventually delirium or unconsciousness can occur. The skin will be hot, dry, red or flushed. Heatstroke is a severe medical emergency that could be fatal. Dial 911, remove clothing, place the person in a cool place or even a cold bath until help arrives. This could mean life or death.
Many common sense methods can be used to lessen the possibility of heat-related illnesses.
Avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., as these are the hottest hours of the day.
Reduce physical activity outside during the hot times.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat and light colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes when outside, as this type of clothing reflects heat and sunlight, which in turn will help keep you cooler.
Avoid eating hot, heavy meals that include lots of protein. These foods increase your metabolism and your body’s water consumption, which raises your body’s temperature. Eat light.
If you don’t have an air conditioner in your home, take a cool bath or shower twice a day and visit air-conditioned public spaces or “cool-off” locations during the hottest part of the day.
Drink plenty of fluids even if you are not thirsty. Water is best. Avoid alcohol or caffeine drinks since they are diuretics (food, drink, or medicine that increases the flow of urine, thus depleting the body of water).
Use sunscreen if you need to go out in the sun. Sunscreens can weaken with age, so be sure to make sure yours is not expired.
Anza is also fortunate to have a Cool Down Center located at the Anza Community Hall, 56630 Hwy. 371, across from the Circle K convenience store in Anza. What this means is that when temps get into the triple digits, volunteers man the Hall and open it to the public. Anyone can go there to be in a cool environment and receive free bottled water Mondqy through Friday from 10 a. m. to 4 p. m.. The County of Riverside Community Action Partnership sponsors this endeavor. Cool Down Centers such as this are active from June 15 through Oct. 15, and Warm Centers are active from Dec. 1 through March 31.
While summer means heat, it does not mean you have to suffer to the point of affecting your health. There are options out there. Be careful and be cool.
To contact the Community Hall call (951) 763-4811 or visit www.facebook.com/groups/337754646415866/.
For more beat-the-heat tips, visit www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340158_HeatWave.pdf.
Fore more information regarding Cool Down Centers, please visit http://www.capriverside.org/program/disasterpreparedness