(Harrisburg, PA) – The Shapiro Administration is reminding Pennsylvanians to take summer heat seriously, with forecasts calling for heat and humidity that will make temperatures feel like the upper 90’s to low 100’s this week.
According to the National Weather Service, heat is the most prevalent weather-related cause of death in the United States,” said Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield. “It’s especially dangerous for children and older adults, those working outdoors, and urban areas where heat can build up due to asphalt and concrete and nighttime cooling is minimal. In particular, it is never safe to leave people or pets inside cars even if windows are cracked open. Temperatures can quickly rise to dangerous levels, leading to dozens of avoidable deaths each year. Keep cars locked even when parked in a driveway to keep children from unknowingly climbing inside.”
It is important to understand the spectrum of heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps (mildest), heat exhaustion and heat stroke (most severe). Awareness allows you to prevent heat related illness and recognize early stages, intervene as early in the course as possible, and help in an emergency.
Heat cramps are painful muscle cramps and spasms that occur during or after exercise and sweating in high heat. Treatment at this stage includes:
- moving to a cool place and rest
- removing excess clothing
- placing cool clothes on skin
- fanning the skin
- drinking cool sports drinks with sugar and salt
- stretching cramped muscles slowly and gently.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, fainting, and nausea or vomiting. Help the person cool off as with heat cramps and seek medical attention if symptoms are severe, or if symptoms last more than one hour, or the person has heart problems or high blood pressure.
Symptoms of heat stroke include a high body temperature (above 103°F); red, hot and dry skin, but no sweating; a rapid pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.
If you think someone is having a heat stroke, it is important to first call 9-1-1. After calling for help, get the person to a shady area and quickly cool them down by putting them in a tub of cool water or spraying them with a garden hose. Provide fluids in the form of cold sports drink only if the person is alert and can drink.