Try to stay cool when temperatures soar

Published 4:09 am Friday, August 4, 2006

By Staff
Being outside the other day, first at the Potawatomi gathering in Dowagiac and then at the Cass County Community Policing Golf Outing, I found myself very red in the face and on the verge of becoming a heat exhaustion statistic.
I jumped in the shower when I got home and turned the water temperature as cool as I could handle. That made me feel much better and probably was quite needed.
I am not used to being outside of air conditioning. Usually I just go from the office to my car to the inside of a building.
In fact, at the office people joke as I often am wearing a sweater as I seem to always be cold.
Over the weekend, I rediscovered putting a cool washcloth around my neck to lower my body temperature as I was doing some work outside.
Apparently, regulating body temperature can cause a variety of complications, according to the American Red Cross.
Many people are affected like myself and find under extreme heat, the body has a difficult time regulating its temperature.
The Greater Kalamazoo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross recommends if you don't have air conditioning in your home to go to a mall, a movie theater, restaurant or local library for relief.
If you visit a friend, they don't have to know the real reason for your visit was that they have air conditioning.
No, really Wally, that's not why I came over Sunday night.
The Red Cross recommends if you have to be home without air conditioning, or outside, to remember these tips:
Wear light-colored clothing.
Drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty.
Work in the morning, before it gets too hot.
Take frequent breaks in a cool location, preferably indoors.
If you take a dip in one of the nearby lakes, or a neighbor's pool, "be sure to follow both water safety and heat precautions when out by the water. Dehydration and extreme sunburn are still risks, even when you are in the water."
Watch for heat-related illness.
The very young and very old are most susceptible, as are family pets.
When temperatures rise, be sure to watch out for others, as well as yourself:
Check on elderly neighbors or any families you think might need assistance.
Bring your children and pets inside.
Make sure everyone stays hydrated.
Never leave a person or a pet in a car with the windows closed or nearly closed, not even for just a few minutes.
Heat exhaustion is characterized by:
Cool, moist, pale skin (the skin may be red right after physical activity).
Dizziness and weakness or exhaustion.
The skin may or may not feel hot.
The latter, more critical stage, heat stroke, includes the same symptoms as heat exhaustion; however, they are often to a more extreme degree.
They are characterized by high body temperatures, loss of consciousness and rapid, weak pulse or breathing.
Treating heat illness:
Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position.
If the person is fully awake and alert, give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.
Do not let him or her drink too quickly.
Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or wet sheets.
Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.
Be careful you don't harm yourself while trying to save a few dollars. I remember my mother refused to turn her air conditioner on, causing us to worry about her health while living a distance away.
To conserve power during extreme heat and keep electric bills manageable, the Red Cross recommends thermostats should be adjusted and non-essential electronics, such as lights, be shut off when not in use. Avoid using dishwashers, clothes dryers, ovens and other heat-producing appliances during peak times of the day, especially between 3 and 7 p.m.
Setting your thermostat around 80 degrees. This will keep your home at a safe and comfortable temperature without contributing to power supply issues.