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Heat Wave Information
Heat can affect anyone; however, it is more likely to affect young children, elderly people, and those with health conditions. In Elgin, the months of July and August can yield very high temperatures. It is important to become educated to better protect yourself during a heat wave.
Preparing for a Heat Wave
The best method for minimizing injury or illness is to prepare your family. The following preparations may decrease the likelihood of injury or illness:
- Purchase a national oceanic & atmospheric administration weather radio (NOAA), with a battery back-up. Radio will alert you when a heat wave has been issued.
- Determine places to seek shelter. The best locations are the lowest floors or rooms that are air conditioned. Purchase an air conditioner, even if it is for one room.
- Ensure your air conditioner is properly serviced. Once a heat wave is in effect, vendors are usually too busy to promptly service your unit.
- Purchase electric fans.
During a Heat Wave
The most important thing to do is listen to broadcasts from local or county officials providing instruction as to what to do. To reduce injury or illness, adhere to the following suggestions:
- Dress for the weather; wear lightweight, light colored clothing.
- Slow down your pace and avoid strenuous activity. If you must complete strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, between the hours of 4:00 a.m. through 7:00 a.m.
- Stay indoors as much as possible, in the lowest area of the premises, if air conditioning is not available.
- Drink plenty of fluids, even when you are not thirsty.
- Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
- Eat small meals, and avoid foods high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
If Injury or Illness Occurs
A heat related illness is characterized as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Symptoms are pale or flushed skin, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, rapid or weak pulse, rapid or shallow breathing, and exhaustion. Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms, usually located in the abdomen or legs. A heat stroke is a mild form of shock caused by a loss of body fluids through heavy sweating. This is a life-threatening condition where the body’s temperature control system, which produces sweat to cool the body, stops working. When this occurs the body temperature may rise so high that it causes brain damage.
In all cases, it is critical to get the victim out of the heat and into a cooler environment. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths. If the victim is conscious, provide cool water to drink every 15 minutes. Ensure the victim drinks the water slowly. Should be victim refuse water, is vomiting or changes level of consciousness, do not give him/her anything to eat or drink. Instead, dial 911 immediately.