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A prolonged period of dangerously high heat and humidity is expected to continue across much of the country, posing significant risk of heat-related illness and death. To make sure you and your loved ones stay safe, the Red Cross offers these tips:

  • Keep yourself and family members hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids whether they feel thirsty or not. Stay away from caffeinated drinks.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Wear clothing that is loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored. (Dark colors absorb the sun’s rays.)
  • Do not leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Know the forecast by listening to and watching local weather forecasts.
  • Make sure your family members are aware of heat safety precautions and have a plan for the possibility of power outages. Also check the contents of your emergency preparedness kit.
  • Stay alert to the needs of high-risk people in your neighborhood – the elderly, young, sick, or overweight.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, plan to spend the warmest parts of the day where there is air conditioning; such as schools, shopping malls, and movie theaters.

It is also important to know the signs of heat stroke (sunstroke) and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given. Warning signs of heat stroke may include:

  • an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F, orally)
  • unconsciousness
  • dizziness, nausea, and confusion
  • red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • rapid, strong pulse
  • throbbing headache

Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt contained in sweat. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people and people working or exercising in a hot environment. Warning signs of heat exhaustion may include:

  • heavy sweating
  • muscle cramps
  • weakness
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • paleness, tiredness, dizziness

If any of these signs are present, it is critical to call 911. While waiting for their arrival, move the victim into the shade or a cooler location, and reduce their body temperature with a cold bath or shower, garden hose, or sponge with cool water. Remove clothing and use fans and air conditioners. Do not give fluids of any kind. Remember, these self-help measures are no substitute for medical care.

Your best defense against heat-related illnesses is prevention. Staying cool and making simple changes in your fluid intake, activities, and clothing during hot weather can help keep you safe and healthy.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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