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Extreme Heat

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How to Survive the Heat

During the summer months, if you think that your neighbors may be living in a dangerous environment (no air conditioner), then you can call 311 or (731) 285-4019.  The Dyersburg Fire Department will be sent to check on the welfare of your neighbors.

About Extreme Heat

During the summer months, the West Tennessee area is frequently affected by severe heat hazards. Persistent domes of high pressure establish themselves, which set up hot and dry conditions. This high pressure prevents other weather features such as cool fronts or rain events from moving into the area and providing necessary relief. Daily high temperatures range into the upper 90’s and low 100’s. When combined with moderate to high relative humidity levels, the heat index moves into dangerous levels, and a heat index of 105 degrees is considered the level where many people begin to experience extreme discomfort or physical distress.

The major human risks associated with severe summer heat include heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, and heat cramps. Most at risk are outdoor laborers, the elderly, children, and people in poor physical health.  Familiarize yourself with the following terms and then read on to figure out what you can do to protect yourself against severe heat this summer.

Heat Wave

Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.

Heat Index

A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.

Heat Cramps

Muscular pains and spasms - usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs - that may occur due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

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’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Some indications of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

Heat Stroke

A life-threatening condition. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise to 106 degrees F or higher within ten to fifteen minutes.  Brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.
Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • An extremely high body temperature
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Sun Stroke

What can you do when the temperatures get too hot this summer?

Slow down and avoid strenuous activity, especially during the hottest parts of the day.

Stay indoors as much as possible.  If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor or go to a public building that does have air conditioning.

Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.  Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy.

Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.  Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.

Eat small meals and eat more often.

Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. Never leave infants, children, or pets unattended in vehicles - even if the windows are cracked open.

How to treat heat-induced conditions?

Heat Cramps

Stop all activity, get to a cooler place, and rest in a comfortable position.  Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids.  Drink a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.  You may also drink clear juice or a sports beverage to replenish the body's salt levels.  Do not drink liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, and do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside.  If heat cramps do not go away after one hour, seek immediate medical attention.

Heat Exhaustion

Get out of the heat and rest in a cooler place.  Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels for sheets.  Drink half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes and be sure to drink it slowly.  Remember:  Do not drink liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them.

Heat Stroke

Call 9-1-1 immediately and move to a cooler place.  If possible, immerse yourself or in a cool bath, or wrap wet sheets around you and fan yourself.  Watch for breathing problems and try to continue to cool yourself down until help arrives.  Do not drink any fluids.

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