Beat the Heat safety tips

  • Published
  • By Christina Whaley
  • Air Force Flight Test Center Ground Safety Office
As the sweltering summer heat sweeps across the Mojave Desert, Team Edwards' personnel are reminded to take precautions against heat related incidents.

Many simple measures can be taken to significantly reduce the chance of getting heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Team Edwards' personnel are encouraged to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks while working outside. Staying inside and avoiding strenuous activity, if possible, is also recommended.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 400 Americans die each year due to summer's sweltering heat. Furthermore, the National Weather Service asserts that excessive heat was the number one weather-related killer, causing more fatalities per year than floods, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and extreme cold from 1994 to 2003.

All of Team Edwards' personnel are at risk, especially when temperatures rise above 100 degrees, but the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended.

Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches. Victims of heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to their skin. If a victim refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.

Here are a few heat safety tips:
-- Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
-- Drink water. Carry water or juice with you, and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine which dehydrate the body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by your physician.
-- Eat small meals, and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods which increase metabolic heat.
-- Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity if possible. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day which is usually in the morning between 4 and 7 a.m.
-- Stay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do not cool, they simply circulate the air.
-- Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on elderly residents in your neighborhood and those who do not have air conditioning.
-- Learn proper first responder first aid and CPR.