Take precautions in summer to prevent heat exhaustion.
Is the summer heat making your drive unbearable? Rising temperatures and humidity can not only interrupt your comfort but also be hazardous to your health.
A rise in body temperature can cause heat exhaustion, characterized by muscle cramps, cold skin, sweating, nausea, weakness and dizziness, according to the American Red Cross.
If left untreated, heat exhaustion could develop into a heat stroke, which is life threatening and could leave a victim with severe organ damage, according to Consumer Reports on Health.
Signs of a heat stroke are body temperature above 104 degrees F; confusion; loss of consciousness; convulsions; hot, red and wet or dry skin; rapid breathing and a racing pulse.
Heat illnesses can affect anyone at any time if their body’s cooling system is overloaded.
A rise in temperature and humidity can endanger drivers doing routine things like riding with open windows, fueling their trucks in the sun or walking long distances.
The effort of loading or unloading your truck in the summer sun will also make your body temperature rise, especially if you’re driving in unfamiliar weather. Your body needs to be acclimated to the temperature you live in to better adapt to a surge of heat. Drivers that live in low-temperature areas need to take extra precautions when they reach warmer areas to avoid getting overheated.
All drivers need to take steps to avoid excessive heat in the summer months. Begin by trying to avoid any activity during the hottest part of the day. Also consider wearing light, loose clothing, staying out of direct sunlight, taking showers to cool off, eating light meals and drinking plenty of fluids such as water or fruit and vegetable juices.
If you begin to show signs of heat exhaustion, the American Red Cross suggests you move to a cool place out of the sun, elevate legs, loosen clothing, sponge with cool water or apply ice packets to the armpits, wrists, ankles and groin. Drink only cool water or chew on ice chips.
If you don’t feel better within 30 minutes, you need to seek emergency medical help before any further problems occur.
If you witness a victim showing signs of heat stroke, immediately call for medical help, then immerse them in a cool bath if you can find one or cover with cool, wet cloths. Keep them lying down and staying as cool as possible and offer ice chips or water only if they are conscious and not vomiting.
There are other risk factors beside heat that can increase your chances of suffering from a heat illness. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, your chances of getting heat exhaustion are greatly increased if you have poor circulation or inefficient sweat glands brought on by aging; a recent illness that involved a fever; take any drugs or medications that affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature; or have been overeating, drinking alcohol and going without air conditioning.
If you are simply suffering from cramps due to the heat, rest in a cool environment out of the sun and begin drinking cool water or liquids without caffeine or alcohol to avoid further complications.
How Can Heat Affect You?
- 80-90 degrees – Fatigue possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.
- 90-105 degrees – Sunstroke, heat cramps and heat exhaustion possible with prolonged exposure and or physical activity.
- 105-130 degrees – Sunstroke, heat cramps or heat exhaustion likely, and heatstroke possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.
- 130 degrees and higher – Heatstroke/sunstroke highly likely with continued exposure.
Source: National Weather Service