10 tips for staying safe in extreme heat, spotting warning signs

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CHICAGO — With record-breaking heat likely heading into the area this Father’s Day weekend, it’s important to take precautions as temperatures soar. More than 600 people are killed by extreme heat every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Here’s some advice from experts at the American Red Cross:

Tips for staying safe

  • Remember some people are more at risk for heat-related illnesses, including adults over 65 years old, people who work outside, infants, children and athletes.
  • Check on anyone who may not have air conditioning, particularly if they’re a member of the at-risk groups listed above. Make sure they seek relief from the heat.
  • Never leave children or pets in vehicles, as the temperature can quickly reach 120 degrees.
  • Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of fluids, and try and avoid caffeine or alcohol.
  • Check on your pets, too! Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, avoiding dark colors. Wear sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if possible, and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

Warning signs and treatments for heat-related issues

Heat cramps

Heat can cause cramping in the legs or abdomen. If someone is experiencing cramps, get them to a cool place to rest, stretch the muscle, and drink a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.

Heat exhaustion

More serious is heat exhaustion, symptoms of which include cool, pale, or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea and exhaustion. Move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing, spray them 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 slowly. Watch for changes in condition.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke can be life-threatening. If someone has hot and red skin, vomits, loses consciousness or has high body temperature while refusing water, call 9-1-1 immediately. Move the person to a cooler place and quickly cool their body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse them with cold water or cover them with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.