Red Cross stresses heat safety

PHOENIX - The Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross urges Arizonans to be wary of the dangers associated with high temperatures and follow safety precautions when outdoors.

Know about the following heat-related conditions:

Heat cramps are muscular pains or spasms resulting from exertion. They often involve the legs and are thought to be due to loss of water and salt from sweating.

Heat exhaustion typically occurs among people who exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid place where body fluids are lost through sweating. Fluid loss leads to decreased blood flow to vital organs, resulting in a form of shock. Sweat does not evaporate as it should and the result is the body does not properly cool. Warning signs include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and exhaustion.

Heat stroke or sunstroke is a life-threatening condition. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweat to cool the body, stops working.

Body temperature can rise so quickly that brain damage or death can result.

Warning signs include hot, red or dry skin, changes in consciousness, rapid and weak pulse, and rapid and shallow breathing. Body temperature can reach 105 degrees.

Heat cramps or exhaustion may be treated by getting the victim into a cool place and administering a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.

Do not let him or her drink rapidly. Do not give alcohol or caffeine as either can worsen the condition.Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply a cool cloth, towel or wet sheet.

In case of heat stroke, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Move the victim to a cooler location, wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it.

If ice or cold packs are handy, wrap in a cloth and place them on the victim's wrists and ankles, in the armpits and on the neck to cool larger blood vessels.

Keep the victim lying down and watch for signs of breathing difficulty, keeping the airway clear.

For more information, call the American Red Cross at (602) 336-6660.

• Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing that reflects the sun's rays away from the body

• Wearing a hat or using an umbrella will further help.

• Carry water or juice and drink continuously, even if you do not feel thirsty.

• Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which cause dehydration.

• Eat smaller meals and eat more often.

• Avoid high-protein foods that increase metabolic heat.

• Avoid strenuous activity. If you must engage in such, do so when it is cooler as between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.

• Be a good neighbor. Check on elderly residents in your neighborhood and those that don't have air conditioning.