News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 18, 2013

EDITORIAL: Heat’s on, so keep your cool

Don’t dismiss the dangers of summer’s hot weather

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TERRE HAUTE — We all know about major weather-related events that threaten people’s health and well-being. We live in the Midwest, after all.

There are Tornadoes. Floods. Lightning. Severe thunderstorms. Blizzards. In other parts of the country, there are hurricanes.

But here’s a fact you may not know. According to the National Weather Service, heat causes more deaths each year in the United States than all the others.

While it may be a no-brainer to use caution when dealing with the more dramatic weather occurrences, it’s important to remind people that extreme heat demands keen attention as well.

The kind of heat wave that typically engulfs Indiana and the Midwest was a bit slow to arrive this summer — in stark contrast to the prolonged bouts of heavy heat and dry weather the past two years. But arrive it has. The thermometer is busting through the 90 degree mark this week and is expected to continue doing so before relief sets in.

The heat may not last for long periods this year, but we urge you to take it seriously nonetheless. Even the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and EMS professionals are reminding us to be cautious outside and try to limit exposure to the heat.

So we share this note from state officials: Heat-related illnesses can happen quickly and be deadly. The elderly, very young and those with respiratory conditions are most susceptible to serious heat-related illnesses. Take frequent breaks during outdoor activities, and drink plenty of fluids (nothing carbonated). When appropriate, check in regularly with family members and neighbors who may not have air conditioning.

What’s more, never leave a child or pet in a parked car. The temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to dangerous levels.

Symptoms of heat-related illness include muscle cramps, body temperature more than 102 degrees, flushed-looking appearance, nausea and vomiting, weakness, fatigue, faint feeling, diarrhea, headaches, unresponsiveness and seizures.

And finally, someone suffering from heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place to rest and drink water or a sports drink (nothing carbonated). Cool, wet washcloths or icepacks will help with recovery.

When in doubt, go to the emergency room or call 911.

The heat in on. Treat it with due respect.