Whether you’re sunbathing, bike riding or washing your car, on a hot day the symptoms of a heat injury can sneak up on you.
Protect yourself and others by following these steps.
- Avoid the sun from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. when the burning rays are strongest.
- Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 if you need to go out in the sun. Remember to apply sunscreen liberally to the children in your care.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and light colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes when you’re outdoors. This type of clothing reflects heat and sunlight, which helps you maintain a normal body temperature.
- Reduce physical activity.
- Avoid hot, heavy meals that include proteins. These meals increase your metabolism and water loss, and raise your body’s natural way of cooling.
- Drink plenty of fluids even if you aren’t thirsty. Eight to 10 glasses of water a day are recommended. Drink even more if you are exercising or working in hot weather.
- Do not drink alcohol or caffeine since they are diuretics (i.e., promote water loss).
The Cool Center Program, sponsored by Southern California Edison, provides safe, air-conditioned facilities free for your use during hot summer days.
For more information about Cooling Centers in the Los Angeles area, click here.
Heat Injuries, Symptoms and First Aid
- Sunburn is usually a first-degree burn that involves just the outer surface of the skin. Symptoms include redness and pain. Severe cases may cause swelling, blisters, fever of 102 degrees or above and headaches.
First Aid: Use ointments, as well as cool baths or compresses, for less severe cases. Don’t break the blisters; if blisters do break, use a dry germ-free dressing. In severe cases consult a physician.
- Heat cramps often are related to dehydration. Symptoms include increased sweating with painful muscle spasms of the arms, legs and occasionally the abdomen.
First Aid: Remove the victim from the hot environment. Apply pressure on or gently massage the spastic muscles.
- Heat exhaustion is the inability to sweat enough to cool you. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting as well as cold, clammy, pale, red or flushed skin. A marked body temperature rise will not occur.
First Aid: Remove the victim from the heat. Lay the victim down and loosen the clothing. Apply cold compresses and cool the body by fanning the victim or placing the victim in a cool environment. Consult a physician if vomiting continues.
- Heatstroke occurs when the body stops sweating but the body temperature continues to rise. Symptoms include visual disturbances, headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion and, as the condition progresses, delirium or unconsciousness. The skin will be hot, dry, and red or flushed even under the armpits. This condition is a severe medical emergency that could be fatal.
First Aid: Consult a physician immediately or call 9-1-1. Remove clothing and place victim in a cool environment, sponge the body with cool water or place the victim in a cool bath. Continue the process until temperature decreases. DO NOT PROVIDE FLUIDS to an unconscious victim.