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Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke

Summer is here and as the temperature rise so does the risk for heat stroke. Heatstroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by doing physical activity in hot weather. You are considered to have heatstroke when your body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher.

Heatstroke symptoms include:

  • High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • A lack of sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
  • Headache. You may experience a throbbing headache.
  • Confusion. You may have seizures, hallucinate, or have difficulty speaking or understanding what others are saying.
  • Unconsciousness. You may pass out or fall into a state of deep unconsciousness (coma).
  • Muscle cramps or weakness. Your muscles may feel tender or cramped in the early stages of heatstroke, but may later go rigid or limp.

Heatstroke follows two less serious heat-related conditions:

  • Heat cramps. Heat cramps are caused by initial exposure to high temperatures or physical exertion. Signs and symptoms of heat cramps usually include excess sweating, fatigue, thirst and cramps, usually in the stomach, arms or legs. This condition is common in very hot weather or with moderate to heavy physical activity. You can usually treat heat cramps by drinking water or fluids containing electrolytes (Gatorade or other sports drinks), resting and getting to a cool spot, like a shaded or air-conditioned area.
  • Heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs when you don’t act on the signs and symptoms of heat cramps and your condition worsens. Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include a headache, dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea, skin that feels cool and moist, and muscle cramps. Often with heat exhaustion, you can treat the condition yourself by following the same measures used to treat heat cramps, such as drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages, getting into an air-conditioned area or taking a cool shower. If your symptoms persist, seek medical attention immediately.

Those most susceptible (at risk) individuals to heat stroke include:

  • Infants
  • The elderly (often with associated heart diseases, lung diseases, kidney diseases, or who are taking medications that make them vulnerable to dehydration and heat strokes)
  • Athletes
  • Individuals who work outside and physically exert themselves under the sun

What to do in event of heat stroke:

If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number.

Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.

  • Help the person move to a shaded location and remove excess clothing.
  • Place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin.
  • Mist the person with water while a fan is blowing on him or her.
  • If the person is able to drink liquids, have them drink cool water or other cool beverages that do not contain alcohol or caffeine. Soda contains 34 to 55 mg of caffeine so if you can, try to avoid it.

How can heat stroke be prevented? 

  • The most important measures to prevent heat strokes are to avoid becoming dehydrated and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather.
  • If you have to perform physical activities in hot weather, drink plenty of fluids (such as water and sports drinks), but avoid alcohol, and caffeine (including soft drinks and tea), which may lead to dehydration.
  • Your body will need replenishment of electrolytes (such as sodium) as well as fluids if you sweat excessively or perform vigorous activity in the sunlight for prolonged periods.
  • Take frequent breaks to hydrate yourself. Wear hats and light-colored, lightweight, loose clothes.
  • Keep cars locked when not in use and never, ever, leave infants, children or pets unattended in a locked car.

Grease Fires

Grease FireGrease fires happen when a collection of grease or oil on a stove, oven, or fryer come in contact with a lit flame or become hot enough to ignite. Grease fires are extremely dangerous because it is a liquid and can spread rapidly and is easily splashed. This can cause the fire to spread to cabinets, furniture, and other flammable areas of the kitchen.

 The best way to deal with a grease fire is to prevent it. The number one way to stop a grease fire is to stay by the stove or fryer at all times. The most serious fires have occurred when food is left to cook on its own. Some other helpful hints are:

 Heat oil slowly. If your cooking oil gets heated too fast it can easily become flammable and spread through your kitchen or cooking area.

 Keep things away from the oil that is being heated. Be careful not to have any liquids close to the pan. If water spills into a hot pan filled with grease it will immediately turn into steam. The steam will spew the hot grease into every direction. As the hot grease lands onto other items (dish towel, counter tops….) the fire can quickly become out of control.

 Deep Fryers can be dangerous. If you are using a deep fryer use extra caution when is come to cords that can be pulled or tangled by people and especially children walking around the area. Also make sure the fryer is not close to the edge of the counter where there is a greater risk that it can get tipped over.

 Don’t overfill your pot. To avoid over filling your fryer first put some cold oil into the pot, lower the food you wish to fry and then add more oil as needed. Once the oil is heated add foods carefully. Pat down food with a paper towel to make sure that the food isn’t holding any water. Lower the food gently with tongs, a long fork, or recommended frying devices. Never drop food into the fryer because they can cause the oil to splatter.

 Be prepared. Keep the lid to the pot nearby and make sure it fits properly. Watch out for glass lids, they can break from exposure to the extreme heat of an open flame. Once the lid is secure the flames will go out by themselves due to the lack of oxygen. Only after the lid is secure you should then turn off the flame. Don’t remove the lid until the pot is completely cooled, this can take up to 30 minutes. If the grease is still extremely hot it can reignite and splatter.  Also have oven mitts or thick pot holders nearby to prevent your hands from being burned.

 Smothering the flame. If you don’t have a lid handy a grease fire can be smothered with baking soda. Flour is not recommended to smother a grease fire because flour is potentially combustible. Using a wet towel can cause the pan to tip over and cause the fire to spread. You also have the risk of the towel itself catching on fire.

 If a fire starts in the oven, turn off the flame and keep the door closed. Make sure that the oven has cooled completely to prevent the chance of the fire reigniting. It is recommended to wait at least 1 hour because ovens tend to cool down slowly.

 Never pick up a pan that is on fire.  A pan that is engulfed in flames can spill and spread rapidly. Also you greatly increase the change of getting burned or catching your clothes on fire.

 Treat any burns only after the fire is out. You should have ointment that can treat minor burns handy, if your burns are severe go to the emergency room. If your clothes catch on fire remember STOP, DROP, AND ROLL.

 Call 911. You can always call and have the fire department go back to the station if you are able to put the fire out yourself.

 Have a fire extinguisher on hand. Both a Class B and a Class K are effective in putting out flammable liquids such as grease and oil, but remember that a fire extinguisher can potentially spread the flames of a grease fire as you try to put it out so be careful when you are using it.