In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods. As temperatures and humidity levels soar in many parts of the country, protecting yourself and others from overheating is critical to avoid a potential heat-related illness. Here are some easy tips for staying safe during heat waves, courtesy of Dr. David Markenson, chair, American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council.
- Never leave a child or pet in a parked car – even for a few minutes. The inside temperature of a car can quickly reach 120 degrees.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day – even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol that dehydrate the body.
- Dress for the heat. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing in layers. Avoid dark colors that absorb the sun’s rays.
- If you must work outdoors, take frequent breaks to hydrate and cool yourself. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- Protect your self from sun exposure even on cloudy or hazy days. In addition to dressing for heat, apply a broad-spectrum (protection against both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen and reapply as indicated, wear eye protection (wraparound sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV ray protection) and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
- Be a good neighbor. Check in on the elderly, young children and pets to make sure they are not suffering from the heat.
Additional heat safety tips are available on redcross.org. Learn how to prevent and treat heat-related illnesses by attending a Red Cross First Aid course. Contact your local Red Cross or visit redcross.org/training for details or to register.