Summer is upon us here in the beautiful Temecula Valley! The kids are out of school and it’s time to have fun. Summer time can be a great time of the year but we must continue to think about safety. Temperatures in the Temecula Valley can reach in excess of 100 degrees during the hottest part of the day, 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. This article will cover the symptoms of heat injuries, some treatment methods, and prevention of heat injuries.
Heat injuries are caused by over exertion in a hot environment, dehydration, or both. There are different levels of heat injuries, they are: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Heat cramps cause profuse sweating and involuntary muscle contractions in the major muscle groups and are potentially very painful. Heat exhaustion is marked by the same symptoms as heat cramps but also may include nausea, vomiting, headache, and lightheadedness. Heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the most serious of the three. The symptoms are: body temperature of 104 or higher, victim stops sweating, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, strange behavior, confusion, seizures and possible coma. Heat stroke is life threatening and immediate treatment is required.
The following measures should be taken to treat a victim of heat injuries:
For heat cramps
- Remove the victim from the heat
- Take measures to cool the victim, such as moving them into the shade and wetting their clothing
- Have the victim stretch the muscles that are cramping
- Have the victim drink water
- Have the victim rest and continue to hydrate until they feel better.
For heat exhaustion, the same treatment as for heat cramps applies but you should also:
- Have the victim drink fluids containing electrolytes, such as sports drinks
- Remove or loosen clothing as necessary to facilitate cooling the victim
- Place the victim in an air conditioned environment if possible
- A cool water mist is very effective for cooling
- If the victim cannot drink, seek medical help
- Do not immerse the victim in very cold water
For heat stroke,
- Immediately call 911
- Place the victim in a cool place if possible
- Remove clothing to facilitate cooling
- A bath of cool water is very effective
- If available, place ice packs under armpits and in the groin
- Fan the victim to promote evaporative cooling
- If the victim is able to drink, have them drink cool water
- Do not allow the victim to drink liquids containing alcohol or caffeine.
What can you do to prevent heat injuries?
- Avoid heavy exertion in a hot environment
- Drink plenty of water
- Take frequent rest breaks
- Eat well and don’t over-indulge
- Avoid drinking alcoholic or highly caffeinated beverages
- Get plenty of exercise during cool periods
- Dress appropriately for conditions
With a little pre-planning and using some common sense, you can avoid being the victim of heat injuries. Have a safe and enjoyable summer!
Community Service Officer John Thomas is a long time resident of Temecula and is a Crime Prevention Officer with the Temecula Police Department Crime Prevention Unit. He can be reached at (951) 506-5132.