Heat Emergencies

With the warm weather upon us, most of us are enjoying the sunny days of summer here in Elmwood Park. But hot weather, such as the recent 90 degree temperatures, can create health problems and even medical emergencies for our residents. The Elmwood Park Fire Department responds to several heat related medical emergencies each year. A few tips, and a little common sense could all but eliminate these unfortunate incidents.

When a heat wave is forecast, try to plan your day to avoid being outside during the warmest part of the day, which is from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. If you must go out, try to stay in the shade. Wear a hat and light, loose-fitting clothes. Cotton is preferable to synthetic materials. Avoid strenuous outdoor activities, such as cutting the grass or cleaning the gutters during hot weather.

One of the best ways to help yourself endure a heat wave is to drink plenty of water or fruit juice, even if you don’t feel thirsty. The greatest danger during hot weather is to become dehydrated. Alcohol and coffee tend to make things worse as far as dehydration so try not to drink these beverages during very warm weather. Avoid large meals and hot foods. Try more fruit and salads as they contain water and are not as difficult to digest.

If you don’t have air conditioning, try visiting a public place that does, such as a mall or movie theater, during the hottest part of the day. In your house, close the curtains in rooms that receive a lot of sun. Stay in the coolest room in the house. Take showers and splash your face and neck with cool water during the day. Please don’t leave infants, children, or pets in a closed-up parked car, even if you think the temperatures are low enough to cause no harm.

Those most at risk for heat related emergencies are the elderly and the very young. During a heat wave, check on the elderly, especially if they live by themselves. Be a good neighbor and make sure your fellow Elmwood Parker’s are not at risk.

If you or someone you are with begins to have medical problems as a result of the heat, call an ambulance at 9-1-1. Symptoms of heat related illness include cramping in the extremities, feelings of mild confusion, weakness, and sometimes nausea. While waiting for the ambulance, move the person to a cooler area. Loosen their clothing and sprinkle them with water or wrap them in a damp sheet. If they can drink, give them water or fruit juice.

The Elmwood Park Fire Department cautions its residents to enjoy the summer weather, but please don’t overdo it.