Stay safe in the heat with tips from HEMSI


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – It’s officially the dog days of summer in the Tennessee Valley – the forecast is calling for intense heat with “feels like” temperatures hitting triple digits for the first time in 2020.

And with the COVID-19 pandemic, HEMSI spokesman Don Webster says heat safety is more important than ever.

“A lot of people are not working or at home – they can’t go out and socialize, so they’re staying at home or doing outdoor activities.”

As a result of more people doing hiking, walking, or other outdoor activities – sometimes for the first time – Webster says some simple mistakes can turn into an emergency.

“They go out and go hiking or go do some outdoor activity and next thing you know, they didn’t really prepare for it. They didn’t re-hydrate or pre-hydrate before they took off, they didn’t carry enough water with them, they don’t have the right clothing.”

And those calls have already started – Webster says HEMSI averaged six to eight heat-related emergencies each day during the July 4 holiday.

But don’t let the volume of calls scare you – Webster says it’s easy to stay safe during a Tennessee Valley heatwave.

  • Drink water, Gatorade, stay hydrated
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
  • Wear a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses

The National Weather Service says there are several different signs to watch for in people who may be overheating.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Sweating excessively
  • Skin feels cool or clammy to the touch and looks pale
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling nauseous or vomiting

Symptoms of heat stroke, which requires help from trained medical professionals, include:

  • A throbbing headache
  • No sweating
  • Body temperature above 103 degrees with red, hot, and dry skin
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Losing consciousness

If somebody is showing symptoms of heat stroke, call 911 immediately.

In both cases, Webster says there are things you should and should not do.

  • Splash water, mist them with a spray bottle
  • Don’t lay a towel around the neck or head – that traps heat and makes the situation worse
  • Blow cool air on them

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