It’s mid-June and it’s already sweltering down here on the gulf coast. Some meteorologists are predicting this summer could be the hottest summer on record. Many people forget that in a disaster, heat can be deadly, too.
Because we have air conditioned homes, cars, and offices, many of us don’t think about the dangers of too much heat. If TSHTF, this will change in a hurry, especially for those who live closer to the equator. I, myself, live in the Florida panhandle, and already when I step outside it takes less than a minute for me to start sweating. Imagine how much worse it would be without air conditioning!
You might think that in a disaster scenario you still won’t be outside much anyway. You are wrong. There are multiple reasons to go outside in a disaster: to pick up debris, gather food, collect water, search for supplies, build shelter, etc. And even if you don’t go outside much, it is going to get very hot in your no-longer-air-conditioned home (possibly even worse than it would be outdoors in the shade).
Here, then, are some signs that someone is succumbing to the heat and how to deal with it.
Symptoms: Cramps in the stomach, arms, or legs. This occurs when there is not enough salt in the body, usually from sweating it all out. It’s why they put sodium in Gatorade.
Treatment: First, have the person lie down in the shade. Meanwhile, put a teaspoon of salt in a liter of water and have them drink it. Repeat this every hour until the cramps are gone.
Symptoms: The person is weak, pale, nauseous, and possibly dizzy. The skin is moist and cool and the pulse is weak but fast.
Treatment: Have them lie down in the shade. Raise the legs and gently massage them. As with heat cramps, the best remedy is a teaspoon of salt in a liter of water.
Although heat stroke is rare, it is very dangerous and it’s important that you prevent it before it happens. Note that it happens more often to heavy drinkers and the elderly.
Symptoms: The skin is red, very hot, and dry. Even the armpits aren’t sweaty. The person has a very high fever, and is often unconscious.
Treatment: Immediately move them to a cool, shaded place, remove heat retaining clothing and elevate the legs. Now soak the victim with cool water (ice water if you have it) and fan him with something. If conscious, give them salt water to drink. Finally, move the victim to a hospital. If this is not possible, keep cooling and hydrating the victim until the body temperature returns to normal.
Know the Difference
Heat stroke is far more serious than heat exhaustion, so it’s important you know the difference between the two.