The Wilmington area can experience extremely hot weather in the summer. Take special precautions to avoid heat-related illness in unusually hot weather when working outdoors or in unconditioned indoor environments. Heat-related illness, which can progress to life-threatening heat stroke, is preventable.
Tips For Keeping It Cool*
- Drink small amounts of cool water frequently throughout the day, regardless of your activity level.
- Replace salt and minerals lost due to sweat with a sports beverage or other refreshment.
- Wear lightweight,light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
- Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and SPF 15+ sunscreen.
- Schedule outdoor activities in hot weather to morning hours and limit sun exposure during mid-day hours.
- Pace work, play and excercise in the heat. Start slowly and pick up the pace gradually.
- Monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
- Take time to cool down and rest often in shady areas. A few hours in air conditioning can help you stay cooler for longer while in the heat.
- Use a buddy system. Monitor the condition of friends and co-workers and have someone do the same for you.
- Monitor those at high risk, including those who are overweight, have heart disease, high blood pressure or take certain medications.
- Take time to acclimate to heat and humidity. A heat wave can be stressful to the body.
*Adapted from "Be Safe in Hot Weather" by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Caring for Heat Related Emergencies
- Move the person to a cool place
- Loosen tight clothing
- Remove perspiration soaked clothing
- Apply cool, wet towels to the skin
- Fan the person
- If the person is conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink.
Three Types of Heat-related Emergencies
- Heat Cramps - painful muscle spasms that usually occur in the legs and abdomen, the least severe of the heat related emergencies
- Heat Exhaustion - early indicator that the body's cooling system is becoming overwhelmed, signals include:
- Cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin.
- Headache, nausea, dizziness
- Weakness, exhaustion
- Heavy sweating
- Heat Stroke - a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body's systems are overwhelmed by heat and stop functioning, signals include:
- Red, hot, dry skin
- Changes in level of consciousness