Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

July 9, 2013

Extreme heat comes with health risks

By State Rep. Randy Frye Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — 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.

For further information about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the excesses of summer heat and humidity, I highly encourage you to check out the U.S. Department of Labor’s resources at www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness. These helpful tools can be especially useful for employers who want to provide the safest environment for their employees.

If you have any questions whatsoever about heat-related issues, or any other matters, please feel free to contact my office by email at h67@iga.in.gov or by phone at 317-234-9380. It is my pleasure to serve you any way possible.

Rep. Frye (R-Greensburg) represents Ohio and Switzerland counties, as well as portions of Ripley, Decatur, Jennings, Jefferson and Dearborn counties.