Healthy U

Heat Safety 101: Summer safety tips from local first responders

Local News

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — As the temperatures are climbing into the 80s and 90s, now is an important time to remember being out in the heat can take a toll on your body.

Most of us are more than ready to head outdoors as the weather turns nice.

However, the first hot days of the season can create health concerns if we aren’t careful.

“As the seasons change, particularly when we have dramatic changes, people’s bodies need time to acclimate to those changes,” says Victor Workman, R.N., a critical care educator with Cabell County Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

Sudden temperature swings increase the risk of heat-related emergencies, and it can be especially easy to forget when the temperature doesn’t seem to be that high.

“One of the reasons we will see heat-related emergencies now, is it may only be 80 degrees, but our bodies were very used to the 50 and 60 degrees we were having just a few days ago. We haven’t had time to adjust and acclimate,” Workman says.

The risk goes beyond what the thermometer is reading.

“The higher the humidity, the higher the number, the less ability our bodies have to cool,” Workman says.

Being out in the heat for the first time in awhile can challenge our bodies to adapt:

“Heat exhaustion, heat stroke can occur in any type of weather, even 70-degree weather especially if you’re exerting yourself. It can happen very quickly or it can be over a prolonged period of time,” says Lieutenant Tom Sims with the Huntington Fire Department.

So, how do we know if we’re experiencing heat exhaustion or even heat stroke?

“’I’m thirsty’ is a big sign. Profuse sweating is another sign. Weakness, dizziness, altered mental status,” Workman says.

“Cool clammy skin, with goosebumps, fatigue, faintness, overall muscle cramps, abdominal pain, things of that nature,” Sims says.

Who’s especially at risk?

“You may see the elderly, the sick, the ill, the obese, and those who have certain medical problems and certain medications are predisposed to heat-related or cold-related emergencies,” Workman says.

First responders say some of the best things you can do to ensure you don’t end up in a heat-related emergency is to monitor your own body—know how you’re feeling and stay hydrated.

Most of all:

“Pace yourself. If you start feeling yourself tired, sweaty, weak: take a break,” Workman says.

First responders also say if symptoms of heat-related illnesses persist, you should seek medical treatment.

For more information about heat safety tips and resources, visit the National Weather Service’s website here.

You can also check out the CDC’s website here.

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