Summer Brings Heat, Severe Weather and Possible Illness
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - It’s officially summer, which means ice cream, shorts, severe weather and heat.
According to the National Weather Service of Grand Rapids, this week and next week Meridian Township residents can expect to see temperatures in the high 80’s and the low 90’s and with high levels of humidity.
Along with this hot weather, people are at a higher risk for heat stroke. Here is what you need to know about the causes, symptoms and prevention of heat stroke from the National Safety Council and Mayo Clinic:
Causes of Heat Stroke:
-Being exposed to hot weather conditions.
-Strenuous activity while being in hot weather conditions like working out, participating in sports and yard work.
Symptoms of Heat stroke:
-A high temperature of 104° or higher.
-An altered mental state or altered behavior like confusion, slurred speech, and irritability.
-Changes in Sweating. If a heat stroke is induced by hot weather then skin will feel hot and dry, If you were doing strenuous activity your skin will be dry or slightly moist.
-Nausea and vomiting
-Rapid heart rate
To prevent heat stroke here are the precautions that officials recommend you can take:
-Wear loose fitting and light weight clothing.
-Protect against sunburn. To do this wear a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and get a sunscreen that has a SPF of at least 15. With sunscreen, reapply every two hours if possible.
-Drink plenty of water.
-Never leave anyone in a parked car. When a car is parked in the sun its temperature can increase 20℉ in ten minutes.
-Schedule strenuous activity during the morning or evenings. During these time periods it is cooler outside.
-Get used to your hot environment. If you are not used to hot weather get acclimated with it before you schedule any strenuous activity.
Everyone is at risk for getting heat stroke but people who are at a higher risk of heat stroke are the elderly, people with chronic illnesses and young people.
The elderly, and people with chronic illnesses are at a greater risk because their systems are already compromised due to age, medical conditions and the medication that they may have to take. When exposed to heat their bodies may have a hard time adjusting to hot conditions.
Young people between the ages of 0-4 are more likely to get heat stroke because their central nervous systems are not fully developed and the central nervous system plays a huge role in controlling the body’s temperature.
Meridian Township’s Fire Department EMS/Training Chief Bill Priese provides more information about heat stroke and ways residents can prevent it. According to Priese, symptoms that are associated with heat stroke are the same as symptoms for COVID-19.
“Well, a lot of times differentiating between the two, is one, with heat stroke your body temperature is excessively high like 104° degrees, you probably have been outside for a long time and exposed to high heat levels. (.....) You’ll see somebody who’s outside who is red, their hot to the touch, and their not sweating where you would expect to see somebody sweating. Where COVID is more of a respiratory issue with a fever.”
EMS/Training Chief Priese was adamant about recommending residents stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, and liquids with electrolytes like Gatorade and Powerade. "Staying hydrated replenishes the body’s fluids after you’ve been sweating and will allow you to stay cool."
He cautioned against drinking a lot of caffeine or alcohol because these substances take water away from the body and can also contribute to dehydration.
"It's not fancy to talk about but a good way we can tell if we're hydrated is the color of our urine. The darker the color of our urine the more dehydrated we are; the lighter color of our urine the more hydrated we are, so people can simply check after going to the bathroom to see what color it is and that gives you an indicator of your hydration status.”
EMS/Training Chief Priese also put emphasis on how serious heat stroke can be. "Heat stroke can cause damage to the brain. During a heat stroke the brain isn’t getting enough fluids. This can cause the brain to swell and can lead to fainting, seizures and even comas," he added.
The Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division Captain Kevin Sweeny also cautions Michigan residents about heat stroke as Independence Day approaches.
"Extreme heat can be life threatening. By taking some precautionary steps you, can minimize your risk of heat-related injury and help those who are most affected by severe heat," stated Captain Sweeny.
Officials say, if you feel that yourself or somebody you know is suffering from a heat stroke don’t hesitate to call 911. While waiting on the paramedics you can get into some shade and mist yourself and others with water and use cold towels and ice packs to bring down the body’s temperature.