It took a while but Northeast Wisconsin is happy to say summer has begun. Before we have even had a chance to get used to the warm weather we must remember to be prepared for increased heat and humidity that can be dangerous for all; especially the elderly and very young.
According to Wisconsin Emergency Management, summer heatwaves have been the biggest weather-related killers in Wisconsin for the past 50 years, far exceeding tornadoes and severe storms. In 1995 two major killer heat waves affected most of Wisconsin, resulting in 154 heat-related deaths and over 300 heat-related illnesses.
Red Cross Heat Safety Tips:
- Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
- Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.
- Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 and 7 a.m.
- Stay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do not cool, they simply circulate the air.
- Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on elderly residents in your neighborhood and those who do not have air conditioning.
- Learn Red Cross first aid and CPR. While the above tips can help prevent emergencies, it is crucial to know what to do if an emergency situation arises.
Wisconsin Emergency Management also suggests taking a cool shower or bath if you need to cool down quickly. A shower or bath will actually work faster than an air conditioner.
Enjoy the best of the Wisconsin summer by being prepared for increased heat and humidity. Listen for weather updates and discuss safety measures with your family. For more info on Heatwave Safety visit www.redcross.org.