No doubt about it, summer is here, and with it, what for some could prove to be a deadly heat wave.

The National Weather Service (www.nws.noaa.gov) issued a heat warning for parts of California just in time for the 4th of July. As weekend sun worshippers headed out for beaches and other standard July 4th activities, highs in the San Francisco Bay Area hovered near 100 degrees inland, near that in the South Bay.

While night time cools were around 68 in the always hot California Delta, daytime temps were and are scorchers.

Particularly at risk, the elderly, the ill, the very young, and the overweight – especially those whose apartments and homes are not air conditioned.  Cars, even with the windows down, can quickly become ovens – and death traps for pets, children and the infirm.

Summer’s first scorchers are the most dangerous, the National Weather Service says, because people have not yet adjusted to the heat.

To try to keep it cool, the following tips may help:

  • Wear light-colored or white cotton clothing. Cotton “breathes.”
  • If it’s too warm in your home, seek out public air conditioned spaces: museums, stores, restaurants. Outdoors, try to stay in the shade.
  • Swimming helps but if you can’t tolerate kids or crowds, consider taking a bath in lukewarm water or take a cool shower. The water will evaporate and help keep you cooler.
  • Drink lots of water and avoid strenuous activities and outdoor exercise on brutally hot days. Replace outdoor jogging and running with, say, a brisk walk around an indoor mall.

Here are symptoms of a heat emergency, According to the American Red Cross (www. redcross.org):

·         Heat exhaustion: Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature may be normal, or is likely to be rising.

·         Heat stroke: Hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high–sometimes as high as 105 degrees F. If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry.

How to Treat a Heat Emergency

 ·         Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water, is vomiting, or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.

·         Heat cramps: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can cause further dehydration, making conditions worse.

·         Heat exhaustion: Get the person out of the heat and into a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. If the person is conscious, give cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Let the victim rest in a comfortable position, and watch carefully for changes in his or her condition.

People in groups should keep a careful eye on those most likely to suffer a heat stroke. Applying cold compresses and seeking prompt medical attention may avert a catastrophic medical emergency.

Carol Bogart is a freelance writer/editor. Read her articles at http://www.hubpages.com/ and her column at http:carolbogart.blogspot.com. Contact her at 3bogart@sbcglobal.net.  

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