The Heat

Summer is nearly here and with the season comes increased temperatures and heat indices.  Humans are, to a large extent, capable of adjusting to the heat. This adjustment to heat, under normal circumstances, usually takes about five to seven days, during which time the body undergoes a series of changes that make continued exposure to heat more endurable. This spring however, has seen temperatures fluctuate wildly. This past weekend was a case in point with temperatures rising and falling 20 to 30 degrees from day to day. Heat related disorders in general are more likely to occur among people who have not been given time to adjust to being in the heat. The graduation ceremonies at the Freedom High and to a larger extent at Heritage High were marred by a variety of heat elated issues.

Most heat disorders occur because the person has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children and those sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat,

So, if you are preparing to spend a significant amount of time in heat there are a number of things you can do to prepare for the event.

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you are active. Fluids such as rehydration drinks, juices, or water help replace lost fluids, especially if you sweat a lot.

Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

Drink on schedule. Two hours before your activity, drink 24 fl oz (750 mL) of fluid. Drink 16 fl oz (500 mL) of fluid 15 minutes before the event.

Drink rehydration drinks, which are absorbed as quickly as water but also replace sugar, sodium, and other nutrients. Eat fruits and vegetables to replace nutrients.

If you have to stand for any length of time in a hot environment, flex your leg muscles often while standing. This prevents blood from pooling in your lower legs, which can lead to fainting. To prevent swelling (heat edema), wear support hose to stimulate circulation while standing for long periods of time.

Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).

NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.

While you are at your event monitor those at high risk. Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.

§ Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to keep them cool and provide adequate liquids.

§ People 65 years of age or older are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.

§ Overweight people may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat.

§ People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia or poor circulation, may be affected by extreme heat.

People who have had heatstroke in the past may be more sensitive to the effects of heat in the first few months following the illness, but they do not have long-term problems.

Heat Stroke


  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Excessive sweating or red, hot, dry skin
  • Very high body temperature
  • First Aid
  • Call 911

     While waiting for help:

  • Place victim in shady, cool area
  • Loosen clothing, remove outer clothing
  • Fan air on worker; cold packs in armpits
  • Wet worker with cool water; apply ice packs, cool compresses, or ice if available
  • Provide fluids (preferably water) as soon as possible
  • Stay with victim until help arrives

Heat Exhaustion


  • Cool, moist skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Light headedness
  • Weakness
  • Thirst
  • Irritability
  • Fast heart beat

First Aid

  • Have victim sit or lie down in a cool, shady area
  • Give victim plenty of water or other cool beverages to drink
  • Cool victim with cold compresses/ice packs
  • Take to clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation or treatment if signs or symptoms worsen or do not improve within 60 minutes.
  • Do not return to work that day

Heat Cramps


  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain
  • Usually in abdomen, arms, or legs

First Aid

  • Have victim rest in shady, cool area
  • Worker should drink water or other cool beverages
  • Wait a few hours before allowing worker to return to strenuous work
  • Have victim seek medical attention if cramps don’t go away

Heat Rash


  • Clusters of red bumps on skin
  • Often appears on neck, upper chest, folds of skin

First Aid

  • Try to victim in a cooler, less humid environment when possible
  • Keep the affected area dry

About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Data Center Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit and Transplan
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