DARIEN, Conn. -- As residents continue to swelter under a weeklong heat wave, the Darien Police Department is offering a series of heat-related first aid tips on its Facebook page that may just come in handy.
The first tip listed is: When it's hotter than 95 degrees, don't use a fan. At extreme high temperatures, a fan loses its ability to effectively reduce heat-related illnesses. When it’s hotter than 95 degrees use fans to blow hot air out of the window rather than to blow hot air on your body.
The department also warns that during extremely hot and humid weather, the body's ability to cool itself is affected. When the body heats too rapidly to cool itself properly, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, the body temperature rises and heat-related illnesses may develop. Problems can range from heat cramps to heat exhaustion to more serious heat stroke. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention and can result in death.
Conditions that can make people more susceptible to heat-related illnesses include age (older adults and young children), obesity, fever, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, prescription drug and alcohol use, and sunburn, which can significantly cut the skin's ability to shed excess heat.
These are symptoms of heat-related illnesses:
- Heat cramps: Painful muscle cramps and spasms, usually in legs and abdomen combined with heavy sweating. Treat by applying firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massaging to relieve spasm. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue water
- Heat exhaustion: Heavy sweating, weakness, cool, pale, clammy skin; weak pulse; muscle cramps; dizziness; nausea and vomiting as well as fainting. Treat by moving person to a cooler environment; removing or loosening clothing; applying cool, wet cloths; fanning or moving victim to an air-conditioned room, offering sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue water. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.
- Heat stroke or sunstroke: Altered mental state with a possible throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing; with a high body temperature of 106 degrees or higher. Skin may be hot and dry, or patient may be sweating. A rapid pulse and possible unconsciousness. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Summon emergency medical assistance or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal. Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment. Reduce body temperature with a water mister and fan or by sponging. Do not give fluids.
Police also remind resident to never leave children, disabled adults or pets in parked vehicles. They can die hyperthermia, an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. It can occur even on a mild day. The temperature inside a parked vehicle can rise rapidly to a dangerous level. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate.
Also, make sure your child's safety seat and safety belt buckles aren't too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.
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