July 2011 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share!

Heat is the number one weather related killer in theUnited States! According to NOAA National Weather Service data, heat causes more deaths per year than floods, lightening, tornadoes, and hurricanes COMBINED!  NOAA’s heat alerts are based on the heat index. The heat index is a combination of actual air temperature and relative humidity. When heat gain is more than the level the body can remove or when the body is not able to replace the fluids and salt lost in perspiration, the temperature of the body’s core begins to rise and heat related illnesses may develop.

During heat waves, reduce or eliminate all strenuous activity. Dress in lightweight, light colored clothing. Drink plenty of water or other nonalcoholic beverages. Try to spend as much time in air conditioned buildings as possible. Stay out of the sun. If you have to engage in any outdoor activities, limit them to early morning and evening hours when it is cooler outside.

Every year, children die from hyperthermia because they were left in parked vehicles. The temperature inside a parked vehicle can rise quickly to a dangerous level. The inside of a parked vehicle can heat twenty degrees in just ten minutes and leaving the windows slightly open does not decrease the heating rate by very much. The effects can be more severe in children because their bodies warm three to five times faster than adult bodies. In 2010, 49 infants and children died.

Child safety tips include checking to make sure seating surfaces and child safety seats and seat belts are not too hot when placing your child in a car that has been parked in the heat; never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down; teach children not to play in, on, or around cars; always lock car doors and trunks and keep car keys out of the reach of children; always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination and don’t forget sleeping infants. In over half of child deaths, children have been “forgotten” by a distracted driver after arriving at their destination. BEAT THE HEAT, CHECK THE BACK SEAT!

 For more information, visit www.KidsandCars.org; www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/heat/index; and www.safekids.org.