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Use caution during the hot days of summer


Although it's not July, this week has seen higher-than-normal summer temperatures and heat indices. During a heat wave, it is essential to watch out for heat-related illness.

People who work outside need to take special precautions during heat waves. Missouri Extension Health and Safety Specialist Karen Funkenbusch shared tips for staying safe during summer's high temperatures.

"During heat waves, farmers and ranchers face an increased risk of heat-related illness, which in severe cases can be fatal if untreated," she noted. "It takes new workers time to adjust to heat.

"Healthy workers get used to higher temperatures over a two- or three-day period," she continued. "Within seven to 10 days, they adjust completely. However, it takes only two to three days to return to the original state."

She suggests new workers or workers returning from vacations or sick leave gradually increase workloads and take breaks to build tolerance to heat.

When working with co-workers, one should monitor them for signs of heat-related illness. Funkenbusch said this is especially true for those who do heavy tasks or wear protective clothing. Avoid rapid changes in work intensity. Set up a buddy system to look out for others.

"Heat rash occurs when sweat glands clog due to extreme sweating," she explained. "The rash will look like pimples and white bumps may appear. Mild temperatures cause the rash to disappear.

"Loss of salt and electrolytes causes heat cramps," she continued. "Cramps may occur several hours after you have been out of the heat. They may affect arms, legs, and the abdomen."

Refilling fluids and electrolytes is essential. Drinking liquids that contain electrolytes restores potassium, sodium, and chloride.

"Heat exhaustion also follows heavy sweating," Funkenbusch noted. "Nausea, confusion, headache, and thirst often occur. Getting out of the heat and drinking liquids with electrolytes help return the body to a normal state.

"Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation," she added. "Victims may stagger, become irritable, and lose consciousness. They may have seizures and vomit. Take the victim to a cool place and seek immediate medical attention."

Funkenbusch recommends the following:

• Drink a cup of water every 15-20 minutes to avoid dehydration. Avoid caffeine and carbonated and alcoholic beverages.

• Rest in the shade as needed. Work and rest cycles let the body eliminate excess heat, slow the heart rate, and provide greater blood flow to the skin.

• Wear a hat and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

• Slightly increase daily salt intake to replace salt lost by sweat.

• Review medications and their effects on the body during high-heat periods. Diuretics and antihistamines are common drugs that affect heat resistance.

• Check your air conditioner for efficiency. If your home is not air-conditioned, use fans to move air through it, close blinds and shades, and sleep in a cooler part of the house, such as the basement.

• Plan before you go to work. Bring an adequate supply of water, shade devices, and protective clothing. If you work outside, bring sunscreen.

• Be a "cool" cook. Serve cold sandwiches, salads, and other foods that need not be cooked or baked.

• Use the heat index rather than temperature to measure heat. Use air temperatures and humidity to estimate risk. Learn more about the heat index at www.weather.gov/ama/heatindex.

This weekend, the high temperature in Sedalia will reach the low 90s with a low of around 72. Heat index values could reach as high as 95. There is a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday night. On Monday and Tuesday, the high will reach near 97. There is a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms on Tuesday night and a 30% chance on Wednesday. Temperatures will remain in the 90s for the better part of next week.

summer heat