Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

July 9, 2013

Extreme heat comes with health risks

LText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText Colorast week, sad news broke that a tragic Arizona wildfire claimed the lives of 19 brave firefighters.

As a retired firefighter, I have a deep understanding of the dangers that extremely hot weather can pose. Although Indiana has experienced some rainy days lately, it is important as we enter July to remember some helpful tips to stay safe during the hot and humid summer months.

Hot, dry weather increases the risk of fires, but the heat combined with humidity increases the risk of heat illness as well. The U.S. Department of Labor’s website points out that anyone can be affected by heat illness. Workers, particularly those who wear bulky protective items, are at a greater risk. Those who have not yet built up a tolerance to high temperature conditions are also at increased risk.

Normally, our bodies cool down by sweating. However, sweating is not necessarily enough in the hottest and most humid weather. If the proper precautions are not taken, body temperature can soar to dangerous heights.

Heat illnesses come in many forms. There are mild cases, such as heat rash and heat cramps, but there are also more extreme cases like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat strokes can be deadly, so medical attention must be sought immediately.

Although heat illness is a life and death matter, it is completely preventable. The three best ways to avoid putting yourself at risk of heat illness are water, rest and shade. Never depend solely on your thirst as a signal of when to drink fluids. Five to seven ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes is ideal for proper replenishment. In terms of rest, it is important for people who are exposed to heat, both indoors and outdoors, to take regular breaks. When working outdoors, it is important to find shade periodically and enjoy some relief.

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