DECATUR — While areas of Central Illinois are experiencing excessive heat this week, the American Red Cross has steps people can follow to help stay safe when it’s hot outside.
Never leave children
or pets inside your car
The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Other heat safety steps include:
Stay hydrated, drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
Avoid extreme temperature changes.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors as they absorb the sun’s rays.
Slow down, stay indoors. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
Postpone outdoor games and activities.
Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
If you don’t have air conditioning, go to public spaces for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day.
Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.
If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.
Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.
Don’t forget your pets
Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of shade and cool water.
Animals can suffer heat stroke, a common problem for pets in the warmer weather. Some of the signs of heat stroke in your pet are:
Heavy panting and unable to calm down, even when lying down.
Brick red gum color
Fast pulse rate
Unable to get up.
If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take their temperature rectally.
If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees.
Bring your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.
Take the” Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid” online course
• This course provides owners, pet-sitters and dog walkers with step-by-step instructions for what to do if a pet is choking, has a wound, needs CPR or other care (redcross.org/catdogfirstaid)
The Red Cross has several resources for people to learn how to treat heat emergencies including online and in-person training courses (www.redcross.org/takeaclass), a free First Aid App and Pet First Aid App (www.redcrossorg/apps), and a First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.