Each year in the United States, extreme heat causes 658 deaths – more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined.
Dr. Robin Ikeda, with the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the agency that provided that information, says common sense is key to changing that statistic.
"Taking common sense steps in extreme temperatures can prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths," she said. "No one should die from a heat wave."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage and even death. People suffer from heat-related illness when their bodies aren't able to compensate and cool off properly. Heat has an affect on everyone, but the elderly, children, poor, homeless and those who work outside are most at risk.
To help protect yourself during these hot summer days, stay in air conditioned buildings as much as possible, or find an air conditioned shelter. You should avoid direct sunlight, wear lightweight/light-colored clothing and take cool showers or baths.
Because your body loses fluids through sweat, it's easy to become dehydrated during times of extreme heat. Make sure to drink more water than usual, and don't wait until you are thirsty to drink. You should drink two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside. Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.
Check your local news for the weather so that you know when there are extreme heat alerts posted.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, weakness, cold/pale/clammy skin, fast/weak pulse, nausea or vomiting and/or fainting. If you have any of these symptoms, move to a cooler location, lie down and loosen your clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible. Sip water. If you have vomited and continue to do so, seek medical attention immediately.
The symptoms of heat stroke include a high body temperature of 103 degrees or more, hot or red skin that is either dry or moist, rapid and strong pulse, and possible unconsciousness.
If someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, you should call 911 immediately. Move the person to a cooler environment, and apply cool cloths or put him or her into a cool bath. Do not give the person fluids.
The Tifton Gazette, along with the United Way of South Central Georgia and One Street At A Time, are sponsoring a "Tifton: We're Your Biggest Fans" fan drive to help elderly and low income households that do not have air conditioning. Beginning today and continuing through July 4, bring your new, in-the-box fans by the Gazette office at 211 N. Tift Avenue. We'll collect the fans and distribute them to needy people in the community with the help of local volunteers.
There will be a form posted on The Gazette's Facebook page, as well as printed in the paper beginning Thursday, and distributed at local thrift stores, the soup kitchen, at the Department of Family and Children Services and at Ruth's Cottage. These forms can be used by those in need of fans, and must be completed and returned to The Gazette. Applicants must be Tift County residents.
Make sure that all donated fans are new and in the box – older fans will not be accepted.
To contact editor Angye Morrison, call 382-4321.