Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Heather's Corner: Summer Heat is Upon Us: Stay Safe Oro Valley

Welcome to another Arizona summer. If this is your first be prepared to experience days where hot water comes out of both sides of the tap, patio-sitting is only enjoyable with misters, and shaded parking at the grocery store is like hitting the lottery. With temps like that it is very easy to suffer unfortunate heat related illnesses like heat stroke, dehydration, and worse. We checked with the CDC on some important tips to help beat the heat.
  • Drink more non-alcoholic fluids regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty. At this point you are very susceptible to dehydration.
  • Stay indoors if possible. If your home does not have air-conditioning consider spending several hours at the library or shopping mall. Escaping the heat for even a few hours can help your body stay cooler when you go back in the heat.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.
Check regularly on:
  • Infants and young children 
  • People aged 65 or older People who have a mental illness 
  • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
Even with the best prevention sometimes the heat is just unavoidable. The CDC's website  offers a great description of heat related illnesses and treatment for heat cramps, heat rash, and heat exhaustion. We are going to offer information on heatstroke as it is the most dangerous of the illnesses and can lead to death.

When the body's temperature-control system is overloaded, your temperature rises very quickly and is unable to cool down. As the body's sweating mechanism fails, these temperatures can rise to 106 degrees or higher be in as little as ten minutes. Signs you may be suffering heat stroke are high body temperature, red and hot skin with no sweating, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or even unconsciousness.

In the event of heat stroke, know you are dealing with a life threatening emergency. Call immediately for emergency assistance and start cooling off the victim immediately by following these steps:
  • Get the victim to a shady area.
  • Cool the victim rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F. 
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible.
Unlike earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes for other states we are pretty lucky to escape some tremendously violent and deadly natural disasters. However we do have heat and lots of it. So stay safe and smart when outdoors.

It's going to be a long summer Oro Valley. I hope you enjoy it tremendously!

See you in September.
Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley for 6 years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. She loves gardening, nature, art, and travel. Currently her two young children fill up most of her days (and nights) with chaotic bliss. Oro Valley favorites: memorial bench at the entrance of Romero Canyon Trail in Catalina State Park, Toscana Studio and Gallery, OV Fall Festival, the gumption and determination of OV residents!

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