Summer Weather Safety Tips

Heat Index

The air temperature can actually feel hotter than what the thermometer reads. The Heat Index is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in.

Excessive Heat Warning—Take Action!

An Excessive Heat Warning is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Warning is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 105° or higher for at least 2 days and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75°; however, these criteria vary across the country, especially for areas not used to extreme heat conditions. If you don’t take precautions immediately when conditions are extreme, you may become seriously ill or even die.

Excessive Heat Outlooks 

Issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next 3-7 days. An Outlook provides information to those who need considerable lead time to prepare for the event.

What is a Heat Wave

  • Abnormally hot weather lasting at least two days
  • Heat Waves can occur anywhere in the country and cause heat illness or even death

Heat Advisory—Take Action!

A Heat Advisory is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Advisory is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 100° or higher for at least 2 days, and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75°; however, these criteria vary across the country, especially for areas that are not used to dangerous heat conditions. Take precautions to avoid heat illness. If you don’t take precautions, you may become seriously ill or even die.

How to Respond to Excessive Heat Events

  • Slow down: reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
  • Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
  • Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads. If you pack food, put it in a cooler or carry an ice pack. Don’t leave it sitting in the sun. Meats and dairy products can spoil quickly in hot weather.
  • Drink plenty of water (not very cold), non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you on a fluid restrictive diet or have a problem with fluid retention, consult a physician before increasing consumption of fluids. 
  • Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries.
  • Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air.
  • Do not direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°F. The dry blowing air will dehydrate you faster, endangering your health.
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.
  • Take a cool bath or shower.
  • Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
  • Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat. Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from Keep your children, disabled adults, and pets safe during tumultuous heat waves.
  • Don’t leave valuable electronic equipment, such as cell phones and GPS units, sitting in hot cars.
  • Make sure rooms are well vented if you are using volatile chemicals.

Excessive Heat Watches—Be Prepared!

Heat watches are issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. A Watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain.

Lightning Safety

There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Just remember, When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.

Outdoors

If you absolutely cannot get to safety, you can slightly lessen the threat of being struck with the following tips:

  • Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
  • If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current traveling between group members.
  • If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low areas. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lighting.
  • Stay away from water, wet items, such as ropes, and metal objects, such as fences and poles. Water and metal do not attract lightning but they are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances.

Lightning Safety on the Job

Know what objects and equipment to avoid during a thunderstorm.

  • Stay off and away from anything tall or high, including rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles, and ladders.
  • Stay off and away from large equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, track loaders, and tractors.
  • Do not touch materials or surfaces that can conduct electricity, including metal scaffolding, metal equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes and plumbing.
  • Leave areas with explosives or munitions.

Indoors

A safe shelter is a building with electricity and/or plumbing or a metal-topped vehicle with windows closed. Picnic shelters, dugouts, small buildings without plumbing or electricity are not safe. Below are some key safety tips for you, your pets and your home:

  • Stay off corded phones. You can use cellular or cordless phones.
  • Don’t touch electrical equipment such as computers, TVs, or cords. You can remote controls safety.
  • Avoid plumbing. Do not wash your hands, take a shower or wash dishes.
  • Stay away from windows and doors that might have small leaks around the sides to let in lightning, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
  • Protect your pets: Dog houses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or on metal runners are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes.
  • Protect your property: Lightning generates electric surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike. Typical surge protectors will not protect equipment from a lightning strike.

Heat Safety

When heat and humidity are on the rise, Richland Public Health urges residents to use extra care to avoid heat-related illness. People suffer heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling itself. In some situations, especially in periods of high humidity, sweating alone will not provide an adequate release of body heat.

Regulate Temperature

Conditions that can limit the body’s ability to regulate temperature in hot weather are old age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, poor circulation, sunburn and drug and alcohol use. Among those at highest risk for heat stroke or heat exhaustion are:

  • Infants and children up to 4 years old.
  • People 65 and older.
  • People who are overweight.
  • People who overexert during work or exercise.
  • People who are ill or on certain medications.

Friends and neighbors are urged to periodically check on the elderly and those with illnesses, as they are among the highest-risk groups for heat-related problems. Use the following tips to help beat the heat:

Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

  • Remember, heat-related symptoms can come on quickly.
  • Symptoms of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or fainting. People experiencing these symptoms should be moved to a cool, shady or air-conditioned area, and provided cool, non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Remove layers of clothing, if possible.

Don’t Forget Your Pets

  • Animals kept outdoors should have plenty of fresh water and a covered area to get out of the sun and cool down.
  • Consider jogging in the early morning or evening to help keep pets and yourself cool.

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

Drink Cool (not cold) Fluids

  • Active people should drink two to four glasses (16 to 32 ounces) of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour.
  • Do not take salt tablets without a doctor’s advice.
  • Avoid fluids that contain alcohol or caffeine, because they can add to dehydration and increase the effects of heat illness.

Monitor or Limit Outdoor Activities

  • Plan outdoor activities for the early morning or the evening, when the sun is less direct.
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
  • A wide-brimmed hat protects against sunburn and helps keep the body cooler.
  • Move to the shade or into an air-conditioned building at the first signs of heat illness.
  • Very young children may become preoccupied with outdoor play and not realize they are overheated. Adults should mandate frequent “breaks” and bring children indoors for a cool drink.
  • Children or adolescents involved in team sports should be closely monitored for signs of heat stress. Consideration should be given to modifying practice or play during the hottest parts of the day.

Know the Signs of Heat Stroke

  • Heat stroke is a potentially life-threatening condition, characterized by: a body temperature of 103 degrees or higher; red, hot and dry skin with no sweating; rapid pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; unconsciousness; and gray skin color.
  • People experiencing heat stroke need immediate medical assistance.
  • Before help arrives, begin cooling the victim by any means possible, such as spray from a garden hose or by placing the person in a cool tub of water.

Health Problem with Hot Weather

Causes, Prevention, Signs to Look For, and Emergency Treatment

Hyperthermia & Children
Left in Vehicles

Summer Heat Makes It Especially Dangerous to Leave Children in Cars

The risk of a serious injury or death during hot weather is heightened for children left alone in vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has warned. Research shows that for children hyperthermia (heat-stroke) is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths.

“Even with the windows rolled down two inches, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of a vehicle to reach deadly temperatures on a hot summer day,” said David L. Strickland, Administrator of NHTSA. “Children should never be left alone in or around a motor vehicle, not even for a quick errand. Any number of things can go critically wrong in the blink of an eye.”

Each year, 262 children under the age of 14 are killed and 115,000 are injured in not-in-traffic incidents on private roads, driveways and in parking lots according to a new NHTSA study. Out of that number, 44 fatalities and 105,000 injuries are the results of non-crashes. These incidents include hyperthermia, strangulation by power windows, carbon monoxide poisoning and more. Many of the remaining deaths and injuries in not-in-traffic incidents are the result of a vehicle backing over a child that the driver did not see.

What you need to know, now:

  • Vehicles heat up quickly – even with a window rolled down two inches, if the outside temperature is in the low 80s° Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes.
  • Children’s bodies overheat easily, and infants and children under four years of age are among those at greatest risk for heat-related illness.
  • Children’s bodies absorb more heat on a hot day than an adult. Also, children are less able to lower their body heat by sweating. When a body cannot sweat enough, the body temperature rises rapidly.
  • In fact, when left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s body temperature may increase three to five times as fast an adult. High body temperatures can cause permanent injury or even death.

Safety tips from NHTSA to prevent hyperthermia include:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
  • Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
  • Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open or with the engine running and the air conditioning on.
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
  • If you are bringing your child to daycare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who brings them, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure everything went according to plan.
  • Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare. Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as: — Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle; — Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; — Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.
  • Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.

Dangers of Extreme Heat

  • Symptoms of heatstroke: Warning signs vary but may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, being grouchy or acting strangely.
  • If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

For additional safety tips and information on how to keep kids safe in and around vehicles click here

Recreational Water Illness Prevention

National Recreational Water Illness Week

The week before Memorial Day is National Recreational Water Illness (RWI) Prevention Week. The goal of this observance is to raise awareness about healthy swimming behaviors, including ways to prevent recreational water illnesses (RWIs).

RWIs are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, interactive fountains, water play areas, lakes, rivers, or oceans.

Pool Inspections and the Triple A’s of Healthy Swimming
Pool inspection data can help pool programs identify common health code violations and determine priorities for keeping their facilities healthy. Having the right disinfectant and pH levels in recreational water is essential to stopping the spread of germs that cause RWIs. Although pool inspectors check to make sure these levels are right, they can’t be at every pool every day.

Three Steps for all Swimmers

The best way to prevent RWIs is to keep germs out of the pool in the first place. Follow these six steps for a safe and healthy swimming experience:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.
  • Don’t swallow pool water.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.

Three Steps for Parents of Young Children

  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside.
  • Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming.

Pool Inspections and the Triple A’s of Healthy Swimming

Pool inspection data can help pool programs identify common health code violations and determine priorities for keeping their facilities healthy. Having the right disinfectant and pH levels in recreational water is essential to stopping the spread of germs that cause RWIs. Although pool inspectors check to make sure these levels are right, they can’t be at every pool every day. 

To help ensure a healthy swimming experience every time, we are encouraging swimmers to follow the Triple A’s of Healthy Swimming: Awareness, Action, and Advocacy.

Awareness

Visit CDC’s Healthy Swimming website at www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming. • Learn how to protect yourself and others from RWIs and follow the Six Steps for Healthy Swimming (listed below).

Action

Check pool water yourself using test strips purchased at your local hardware or pool supply store. • Ask the pool operator about chlorine and pH levels and request information on the latest pool inspection score.

Advocacy

Encourage pool operators to take steps shown to kill the germs that cause RWIs. • Educate other swimmers about RWIs to promote healthy swimming Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs).

Water Saftey

The rise in Near-Drowning Incidents

Columbus, Ohio—A recent analysis of the number of children treated in emergency departments for near-drowning incidents has officials at the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) emphasizing the need for safe water practices.

ODH tracks near-drowning incidents, which are reported to the state agency by emergency department personnel on a daily basis. The emergency department data show a clear seasonal trend in near-drowning incidents from the months of May-August (please see attached file).  Children and youth are at an increased risk for drowning during these summer months.  Parents should closely monitor their children’s play during water activities.

ODH also monitors death certificates to ascertain the number of drowning deaths.  In 2012 in Ohio, 29 children and 69 adults died from drowning, according to preliminary ODH death certificate data.    

“Playing in the water is an excellent way to have fun and get exercise,” said Dr. Ted Wymyslo, Director of the Ohio Department of Health. “However, water can be dangerous. Respecting the risks water poses is the best way to keep our families safe.”

While children can drown in water anywhere, young children (aged 1 to 9) are at greater risk of drowning in swimming pools while older youth (aged 10 to 19) are at greater risk of drowning in natural bodies of water and is the second leading cause of death in children aged 0-4 according to the CDC.

Learn CPR.

Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and get recertified every two years. Immediate CPR can help a child stay alive and reduce the chance of brain damage.

Install drain covers and safety releases.

To avoid drain entanglement and entrapment in pools and spas, install anti-entrapment drain covers and safety vacuum release systems.

Fence it off. 

Install a four–sided isolation fence, with self–closing and self–latching gates, around backyard swimming pools. This can help keep children away from the area when a parent cannot supervise them. Pool fences should completely separate the house and play area from the pool. If children can gain access to pools through the house or poorly-latched gates, they are at risk of drowning. Door alarms, pool alarms, and automatic pool covers can add an extra layer of protection when used properly, but should not replace a fence and good supervision.

Never swim alone

Always have a buddy with you when you swim.  It is also good to have a watch buddy as well in the event someone needs to contact emergency personnel.

Be on the lookout.

Supervise young children at all times around bathtubs, swimming pools, ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water. Partner with other parents to take turns watching children at swimming pools. While parents often believe they will hear splashing or shouting, drowning is often silent and occurs quickly.

Begin teaching children to swim early

Experts suggest starting swimming lessons after age 4. Also, please note that water safety programs for infants and young children are not a substitute for good supervision.

Make life jackets a “must.”

Make sure all kids wear life jackets (also known as personal flotation devices or PFDs) in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and ponds, even if they know how to swim. Ohio law requires children under the age of 10 to wear a PFD at all times on boats under 18 feet long, however, older children will be safest when they wear PFDs too.

The PFD must be:

  • U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III, or V;
  • In good and serviceable condition;
  • Of appropriate size;
  • Securely attached.

Skin Cancer Awareness
as Summer Months Begin

Before you hit the pool, beach or even the backyard this summer, don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the Prevent Cancer Foundation wants to remind you to practice sun safety while enjoying your favorite outdoor activities

Get the Facts on Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, affecting over 1 million Americans a year. Even with improved awareness about prevention and early detection, cases of the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma, are on the rise. A recent study by the American Academy of Dermatology found that 76 percent of people do not worry about skin cancer because they think it can be treated easily. However, when melanoma is not detected early, it can be deadly. Skin cancer affects those with all hair, skin and eye colors—even those that never sunburn.

The Foundation is celebrating 25 years of providing communities with cancer prevention and early detection strategies, screening guidelines, and ways to reduce cancer risk through healthy lifestyle choices. For more information on how to prevent skin cancer, go to the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s website at www.preventcancer.org.

The Foundation recommends these five tips to help reduce your risk

  1. Limit: Avoid or limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  2. Every day: Always wear sunscreen with UVB and UVA exposure protective formula and with SPF 15 or higher, even on cloudy days.
  3. Sunscreen: Apply at least one ounce — about a shot glass full — of sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply frequently — at least every two hours if in continuous sunlight.
  4. Other sun protectors: Wear sunglasses treated to absorb ultraviolet (UV) radiation, use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15, and wear tight-weave clothing with long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat.
  5. Tanning beds: Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps, which provide an additional source of ultraviolet radiation.

Having a Family Picnic

Picnicking is a special part of many summertime activities. If picnic foods are not handled safely, they can cause foodborne illness. To prevent illness, take safety on your picnic.

Three reasons why picnic foods can be hazardous

  1. Food receives a lot of handling. Picnic foods — such as potato or macaroni salads, sandwich fillings, hamburger patties and cut watermelon — often receive a lot of handling during preparation. Handling increases the risk of contamination with harmful bacteria.
  2. Food is not cooled rapidly after cooking. Some common picnic foods require precooking and are prepared in large quantities. Cooked foods must be rapidly cooled by putting in shallow pans and refrigerating immediately after cooking so harmful bacteria does not grow. Warm temperatures promote bacterial growth.
  3. Equipment to keep hot food hot and cold food cold is usually not used and food sits out for long periods of time. Warm temperatures support the growth of harmful bacteria. The longer food is at warm temperatures, the more likely foodborne illness will result.

Packing for safety

  • Keep cold food cold. Keep cold food at 40°F or colder to prevent bacterial growth. To do so, pack cold foods in a sturdy, insulated cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. Freeze your own blocks of ice in milk cartons or plastic containers for use in the cooler. Put cold foods in water-proof containers or wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and completely immerse in the ice inside the cooler. If using frozen gel packs or containers of homemade ice, place them between packages of food. Never just set containers of food on top of ice.
  • The trunk of your car can reach temperatures of 150°F so it is best to transport coolers in the passenger area of the car. When you arrive at the picnic site, put a blanket over the cooler and place it in the shade to maintain cold temperatures. Keep the cooler closed until ready to use the contents.
  • Keep hot food hot. Keep hot foods at 140°F or hotter to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Take-out foods or foods cooked just before being transported to the picnic can be carried hot. Wrap hot food in towels, then newspaper, and place inside a box or heavy paper bag. Keep these foods warm on a lit grill or use within one hour.
  • If you cannot keep cold food cold and hot food hot, take foods that do not need refrigeration:
    • peanut butter sandwiches

    • dried fruit, nuts, unpeeled fresh fruit — apples, oranges, bananas

    • jelly sandwiches

    • unopened cans of food, meat, fish or fruit

    • cookies, cakes, and crackers

  • Wash your hands. Pack moist towelettes if you think your picnic site might not have handwashing facilities available. Hands carry harmful bacteria and viruses that contaminate food and cause illness.
  • Pack plenty of utensils and dishware. Never use the utensils and dishware that have touched raw foods, such as meat, fish and poultry, to store fresh or cooked foods unless they have been washed between use. Juices from some raw foods contain harmful bacteria that can contaminate other foods and cause foodborne illness. Because proper washing might be difficult at a picnic, pack extra plates and utensils to prevent cross-contamination. Better yet, consider using disposable plates.

Handling leftovers

  • Because most picnic leftovers have been sitting out for more than one hour and have had
    many people handling them, throw them out.
    The more time that food has been sitting at an unsafe temperature, the more likely harmful bacteria has grown.
  • Cold foods kept in a cooler that still has ice may be safe.
    If the ice is melted, throw out the food. Cold water cannot keep foods cold enough to be safe.

Preparing food safely

  • Wash hands before handling food and use clean utensils and containers. Dirty hands, utensils, containers and any work surfaces can contaminate food with harmful bacteria and viruses.

    Do not prepare foods more than one day before your picnic unless it is to be frozen. Cooking foods in advance allows for more opportunities for bacteria to grow. Cooked foods need to be rapidly cooled in shallow pans. Spread the food out in as many pans as is needed so that food is no more than two inches deep. Over 67% of reported cases of foodborne illness are due to improper cooling. Frozen foods can be used if thawed in the refrigerator.

  • Mayonnaise-based foods need to be kept cold. Mayonnaise alone is too acidic for bacteria to grow in it. However, when mayonnaise is mixed with other foods, (particularly those that have been handled a lot and/or are protein foods), bacteria can grow if this mixture is kept too warm.

  • Cut melons need to be kept cold. Many people do not realize that melons, such as watermelons and cantaloupe, can cause foodborne illness. Bacteria, such as Salmonella and Shigella (common causes of foodborne illness), are often present on the rind. Therefore, wash melons thoroughly before cutting then promptly refrigerate cut pieces. Melons, unlike most other fruits, are not acidic and so can support the growth of harmful bacteria.

Cooking food at the picnic

  • Wash hands before handling food and use clean utensils and containers. Dirty hands, utensils, containers and any work surfaces can contaminate food with harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • Thoroughly cook food all at one time. Never partially cook food, let it sit, then finish cooking it later. This provides conditions that allow harmful bacteria to grow and possibly form toxins. (Toxins are poisons formed by some bacteria.) Some toxins are not destroyed by cooking, so reheating the food later will not make it safe.
  • Cooking at the picnic. Whether cooking indoors or outside on a grill, meat and poultry must be cooked thoroughly to ensure that harmful bacteria are destroyed. Grill raw poultry until the juices run clear and there is no pink close to the bone. Hamburgers should not be pink in the center.

Serving

  • Keep cold foods cold during serving the meal. Do not let cold foods sit out for more than one hour. Any leftovers should be put back in the cooler right after they are served. The longer foods are held at unsafe temperatures the more likely that bacteria can grow and cause foodborne illness.
  • Keep hot foods hot during serving the meal. Cooked foods are just as perishable as raw foods, so once grilled foods are cooked do not let them sit out for more than one hour. Plan preparation so food is eaten shortly after it is cooked.
  • Prevent contamination. Keep foods covered to prevent contamination by insects. Many insects can carry harmful bacteria and viruses on their bodies.

Bugs!

And, because they can ruin a picnic, see our pages on Mosquitoes and Ticks for information on protection from mosquitoes and ticks that can carry diseases.

Questions or Comments

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