Heatwaves, S’Mores and More: A Little Summertime Advice

Way back in the early part of the year when it seemed that everyone was getting bombarded with snow, sleet, ice cold temperatures and generally bad conditions I wrote a post on winter weather safety. Quite a few people stopped by and a few commented on it as well. Now that summer is in full swing we need to be aware of summer weather safety. I know that most of us are thinking vacations, long lazy days, cook-outs with friends and family as well fireworks on the fourth of July. Summer is also the highest season for auto accidents with August being the deadliest month and Saturday being the deadliest day. Of course people get injured while doing other during the summer. Also the temperamental summer weather doesn’t help things either. One minute it’s a gorgeous day with temps in the 80s and then five minutes later you’re running indoors to seek shelter from the powerful thunderstorm rolling thru the area.

The first thing I want to talk to you folks about is the heat. Just like the cold in winter heat can be deadly. This especially true for the elderly, young children, pregnant women and anyone with a health condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there five different kinds of heat stress. They are :

Heat Rash

Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather.

Symptoms:

Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters.

It is more likely to occur on the neck and upper chest, in the groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases.

First Aid

Workers experiencing heat rash should:

Try to work in a cooler, less humid environment when possible.

Keep the affected area dry. Dusting powder may be used to increase comfort. Gold Bond or a similar type powder is great for this problem. For little ones a light dusting of baby powder will help. Also keeping their little fingernails trimmed will prevent scratching

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps usually affect workers who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture levels. Low salt levels in muscles causes painful cramps. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.

Symptoms

Muscle pain or spasms usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs.

First Aid

Workers with heat cramps should: Stop all activity, and sit in a cool place. Drink clear juice or a sports beverage. Do not return to strenuous work for a few hours after the cramps subside because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Seek medical attention if any of the following apply: The worker has heart problems. The worker is on a low-sodium diet. The cramps do not subside within one hour.

Heat Syncope

Heat syncope is a fainting (syncope) episode or dizziness that usually occurs with prolonged standing or sudden rising from a sitting or lying position. Factors that may contribute to heat syncope include dehydration and lack of acclimatization.

Symptoms

Light-headedness

Dizziness

Fainting

First Aid

People with heat syncope should:

Sit or lie down in a cool place when they begin to feel symptoms.

Slowly drink water, clear juice, or a sports beverage.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. Workers most prone to heat exhaustion are those that are elderly, have high blood pressure, and those working in a hot environment.

Symptoms

Heavy sweating

Extreme weakness or fatigue

Dizziness, confusion

Nausea

Clammy, moist skin

Pale or flushed complexion

Muscle cramps

Slightly elevated body temperature

Fast and shallow breathing

First Aid

Treat a person suffering from heat exhaustion with the following:

Have them rest in a cool, shaded or air-conditioned area.

Have them drink plenty of water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages.

Have them take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.

Symptoms

Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating

Hallucinations

Chills

Throbbing headache

High body temperature

Confusion/dizziness

Slurred speech

First Aid

Take the following steps to treat a worker with heat stroke: Call 911 and notify their supervisor. Move the sick worker to a cool shaded area. Cool the worker using methods such as: Soaking their clothes with water. Spraying, sponging, or showering them with water. Fanning their body

Sunburns are no fun at all.  A sunburn is just that a first degree burn to the top layer of the skin. This means your skin is red with no blisters. If you have blisters and swelling than you have a second degree burn. The term sun poisoning means a sunburn is severe enough to cause a whole-body reaction, which might include a fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and a headache.  Prevention is the key to sunburn.

Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Cover up

Use sunscreen frequently and liberally Wear sunglasses when outdoors

Another hot topic is firework safety. This handy info graph explains it better than yours truly ever could:

firworks

Last but not least on our hot list is grilling safety.

Grills are great cooking tools. There is nothing like a fresh hamburger sizzling on the grill waiting for cheese to be put on it. My favorite is bratwurst with grilled onions, a little stoneground mustard, ketchup and relish. Messy but well worth it.

Grilling Safety Tips

Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Keep children and pets away from the grill area.

Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

Never leave your grill unattended.

Charcoal grills

There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use.

Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel. If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.

When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles.

If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.

If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill (Duh! I’m sorry but that’s just common sense)

Summer is also the time that our little buzzy friends like wasps. bees and other insects like to make their appearance. Of course prevention of  bites and stings should be your first line of defense but if you aren’t able to do so then steps to stop any itching and swelling.

For emergencies (severe reactions):

Check the person’s airways and breathing. If necessary, call 911 and begin rescue breathing and CPR.

Reassure the person. Try to keep him or her calm. With little ones a small toy might help with this

Remove nearby rings and constricting items because the affected area may swell. Use the person’s EpiPen or other emergency kit, if they have one. (Some people who have serious insect reactions carry it with them.)

If appropriate, treat the person for signs of shock.

Signs of shock include

Anxiety or agitation/restlessness
Bluish lips and fingernails
Chest pain
Confusion
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
Pale, cool, clammy skin
Low or no urine output
Profuse sweating, moist skin
Rapid but weak pulse
Shallow breathing
Unconsciousness

Remain with the person until medical help arrives.

General steps for most bites and stings:

Remove the stinger if still present by scraping the back of a credit card or other straight-edged object across the stinger. Do not use tweezers — these may squeeze the venom sac and increase the amount of venom released.

Wash the site thoroughly with soap and water..

Place ice (wrapped in a washcloth) on the site of the sting for 10 minutes and then off for 10 minutes. Repeat this process.

If necessary, take an antihistamine, or apply creams that reduce itching. Benadryl is great for this

Over the next several days, watch for signs of infection (such as increasing redness, swelling, or pain).

DO NOT

Do NOT apply a tourniquet.

Do NOT give the person stimulants, aspirin, or other pain medication unless prescribed by the doctor.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 if the person is having a severe reaction: Trouble breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath Swelling anywhere on the face or in the mouth Throat tightness or difficulty swallowing Feeling weak Turning blue

Prevention

Avoid provoking insects whenever possible. That mean no throwing rock at hornet or wasp nest! Also if you seen yellow jackets coming out of the ground in a central area leave the area slowly. This is where their nest is. Your local extension agency or hardware store like Home Depot can help you deal with underground nests

Avoid rapid, jerky movements around insect hives or nests.

Avoid perfumes and floral-patterned or dark clothing.

Use appropriate insect repellants and protective clothing.

Use caution when eating outdoors, especially with sweetened beverages or in areas around garbage cans, which often attract bees.

For those who have a serious allergy to insect bites or stings, carry an emergency epinephrine kit (which requires a prescription). Friends and family should be taught how to use it if you have a reaction.

Wear a medical ID bracelet.

Personal note -In 2007 I was the victim of a brown recluse bite. I spent five days in the hospital hooked to IV antibiotics and now have a lovely scar on my left arm. Please before you or your children come indoors check yourselves.  The five minutes you spend checking for “hitchhikers” will save itching. swelling and possibly a trip to the doctors later.

Let’s talk about the weather. Summer weather is rather unpredictable. Sudden rainstorms seem to be common in the summer as well as spur-of-the moment electrical storms. What a lot of people are confused about is the difference between a storm warning and a storm watch.

A storm warning is  when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property.

A storm watch mean severe weather is possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a storm warning is issued

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:

Recognize the signs of an oncoming thunder and lightning storm – towering clouds with a “cauliflower” shape, dark skies and distant rumbles of thunder or flashes of lightning.

Do not wait for lightning to strike nearby before taking cover

To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan

Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.

Postpone outdoor activities

Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.

Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.

Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible).

Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.

Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.

Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.

Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.

In a forest you should seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.

In an open area go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.

On open water get to land and find shelter immediately.

Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike) Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact it the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.

Avoid small sheds and lean-tos or partial shelters, like pavilions.

Stay at least a few feet away from open windows, sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, electric boxes and outlets, and appliances. Lightning can flow through these systems and “jump” to a person.

Do not shower or take a bath during a thunder or lightning storm

Avoid using regular telephones, except in an emergency. If lightning hits the telephone lines, it could flow to the phone. Cell or cordless phones, not connected to the building’s wiring, are safe to use

When someone is struck by lightning, get emergency medical help as soon as possible. If more than one person is struck by lightning, treat those who are unconscious first. They are at greatest risk of dying. A person struck by lightning may appear dead, with no pulse or breath. Often the person can be revived with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). There is no danger to anyone helping a person who has been struck by lightning – no electric charge remains. CPR should be attempted immediately. Treat those who are injured but conscious next. Common injuries from being struck by lightning are burns, wounds and fractures.

Pets are often called furbabies. If you’re like us your pet is a member of your family. Sadly countless dogs die from being left in vehicles. Please leave your pets at home where it is cooler. If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in. Doghouses are not good shelter during the summer as they can trap heat. You may want to fill a child’s wading pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in.

Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day.

The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water.

Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days.

Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun’s heat is less intense.

Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog’s paws.

Dogs that are brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Japanese Chins, and Pekingese, have an especially hard time in the heat because they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs. Keep your brachycephalic dog inside with air-conditioning.

Another tragedy that I feel could be easily prevented is children being left in cars. This year alone twenty children have died from being left in cars. In 2012 thirty children lost their lives to this tragedy. On average, 38 children die every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2010 was the worst year with forty-nine children losing their lives

Keep your briefcase or workbag in the back seat of the car, next to your child’s car seat. It’s an easy way to remind yourself to open a back door.

Keep your cell phone on the floorboard of the back seat.

Keep something beside you in the front seat, such as a stuffed animal, as a reminder the child is in the back seat.

Make an arrangement with your daycare provider that they will call should you not show up on a day the child is scheduled for care.

When a child is missing, check vehicles and trunks immediately. Another option is one of the small mirrors that attach to the front windshield that allow you to see your child in the backseat. Before you go into work look up into the mirror to make sure your little one is not in his or her car seat still.

See a child in car alone on a hot day? Get involved. If they seem tired or sick, call 911 immediately. Be sure to tell the dispatch that you need police and paramedics. The police can file a report while the paramedics give the child the necessary medical care he or she needs.

A friendly reminder that as the weather cools critters will start searching for a warm place to seek shelter.  Be sure to look for my post about fall weather tips later.

Of course I can’t forget to give you guys and gals a the link to a classic recipe:

https://www.hersheys.com/promotions-and-celebrations/pure-smores-recipes.aspx#/Recipes-And-Prep-Methods/S’mores

I hope these safety tips help keep you and your family safe this summer. Until next time…

I have to give credit is credit is due. I gathered information from the following websites:

http://autos.aol.com/article/kids-car-heatstroke-prevention/ http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sunburn/DS00964/DSECTION=prevention http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/outdoors/grilling/grilling-safety-tips http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000033.htm http://www.ready.gov/thunderstorms-lightning http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/thunderstormhttps://www.hersheys.com/promotions-and-celebrations/pure-smores-recipes.aspx#/Recipes-And-Prep-Methods/S’mores

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