Greenwich Red Cross Issues Health Tips for Coping with The Heat

The do's and don'ts of surviving in oppresive, tropical-like weather.

According to local weather forecasts, this weeks record temperatures ushered in the first heat wave of the summer. The American Red Cross urges the public to take precautions against the heat. 

According to the National Weather Service, heat is the number one weather-related killer, in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. On average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. Heat waves can be especially dangerous as high temperatures remain for a long period. A heat wave occurs when there are three consecutive days or more with high temperatures rising above 90 degrees.

And forecasts for the Fairfield County region indicate this trend will continue through the weekend, possibly into early next week.

In Greenwich, several public buildings - including the and its affiliates - have been designated as cooling centers through the heat wave.

In addition to Greenwich, and the libraries, the in Old Greenwich, the Greenwich Senior Center and the on Pemberwick Road, all are designated as cooling centers. All will be open during regular business hours. (Click on the links for hours of each facility.)

The lobby of the Greenwich Public Safety Complex - also known as Greenwich Police headquarters at 11 Bruce Pl. - will be open for the community 24 hours a day. In the event of a major event, such as fire, other rooms in the public safety complex and the Western Greenwich Civic Center will be opened beyond regular business hours.

If you cannot access these faciities, here is some basic information from the Greenwich Chapter of the American Red Cross, to know when to seek help.

Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, but those older than 50 are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses, accounting for 22 deaths Nationwide so far this year. Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating, and headaches. Victims of heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin.  If a victim refuses water, vomits, or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Heat-related illness is preventable. The Red Cross offers the following tips for staying cool and safe this season:

  • 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 arises.


Know What These Heat-Related Terms Mean:

  • Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are an early signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

  • Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs.  This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke. Signals of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.

  • Heat stroke: Also known as, sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red, and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high — sometimes as high as 105 degrees F.

General Care for Heat Emergencies:

  • Heat cramps or heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. If the person is fully awake and alert, give half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. Call 9-1-1 if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.

  • Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 Move the person to a cooler place.  Quickly cool the body.  Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of breathing problems.  Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can.  If the victim refuses water or is vomiting or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.

For more information on heat safety contact the Greenwich Chapter of the American Red Cross at 203-869-8444 or visit www.greenwichredcross.org.


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