As we remember those who have died serving our Nation, this Memorial Day Weekend and with the temperature expected to reach into the 90s, the Houston Fire Department urges citizens to follow some simple safety tips to prevent heat-related emergencies and preventable accidents.
Heat Related Emergencies
• Always, make sure you "Look Before They Lock". Do not leave children, senior citizens or pets unattended in a vehicle.
• Before conducting outdoors activities and feeling thirsty, drink plenty of water and electrolyte-replacement beverages. Avoid beverages or food sources with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because these can actually result in the loss of body fluid.
• Most popular sodas contain high levels of sugar and should be avoided when conducting strenuous activity. Avoid drinking alcohol the evening before conducting strenuous exercise.
• Conduct outdoor work or exercise in the early morning or evening when it is cooler.
• A wide-brimmed, loose-fitting hat that allows ventilation helps prevent sunburn and heat-related emergencies. Sunscreen also helps protect injury from the sun's rays and reduces the risk of sunburn.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that permits the evaporation of perspiration.
Common Heat-Related Medical Emergencies
Be-Aware of your symptoms as well as those around you. You and your family and friends may not realize they are becoming overheated.
• Heat cramps - Stop all activity, go to a cooler area, drink clear juice or a sport drink, rest for few hours until after the cramps subside. Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in one hour.
• Heat Exhaustion - Signs include profuse sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, a weak-but-rapid pulse and fainting. The skin may be cool and moist. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke.
• Heat Stroke - Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating system fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given. Symptoms include an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F, orally), red, hot and dry skin (no sweating), rapid and strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness.
Barbecue Grill Safety Tips
• Portable barbecue pits, charcoal grills and other open-flame cooking devices outside of a building should not be operated on combustible balconies or located within 10 feet of combustible walls or roofs or other combustible materials.
• When igniting the barbecue charcoal, citizens should use a charcoal lighter, not gasoline. Gasoline can flash violently in and around the pit causing serious injuries to anyone in the area of the flash. A fire extinguisher or charged garden hose should be handy while the fire is burning. Check the pit frequently to make sure that it is okay.
• HFD responds to numerous fires started accidently hours after a BBQ with hot ash and coals. Hot ash and coals from barbecue pits and charcoal burners should be placed in a non-combustible container until cooled or thoroughly saturated with water, before being disposed of.
Pool and Water Safety
• Active, focused, adult supervision is the most important safety measure to prevent a water-related tragedy involving a child. The vast majority of children who drown in pools do so in the backyards of their own homes or of relatives.
• Never leave a child alone near water, always watch your children around swimming pool.
• Enroll children over the age of 3 in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. However, swimming lessons don't make your child "drown proof." Remember, flotation devices are not a substitute for supervision.
• Use approved flotation devices
• If your apartment has a pool, inspect the fence and gate. If the gate does not lock or you find any other defects with the fence, report it to the apartment management immediately.
• Standing water is the #1 cause of slips and falls around a pool. NO RUNNING on the pool deck!
• Always have a first aid kit and emergency contacts handy
• Watch for dangerous "TOOs"- Too Tired, Too Cold, Too Far from Safety, Too Much Sun, Too Much Strenuous Activity
Teach Children these safety tips:
• Always swim with a buddy
• Don't dive into unknown bodies of water. Jump in feet first to avoid hitting your head on the shallow bottom.
• Don't push or jump on others in or around water
• Swim in supervised areas only
• Obey all rules and posted signs
HFD also recommends parents and guardians learn CPR. Seconds count if a person drowns and performing CPR quickly and correctly can save their life. For more information on local CPR classes, please contact the American Red Cross , your local hospitals or medical schools.
Additional safety tips may be found on the HFD website at www.houstonfire.org