July 22, 2011 – – Heat Wave Cooks Country: This weekend, the following states should bear the brunt of the heat wave that has gripped the United States: Kansas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. (the District of Columbia), Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina Mississippi and Louisiana.
More than 20 people have died as the United States swelters through record temperatures in one of the worst heat waves to hit the U.S. in over a decade. Hospitals and medical facilities have been inundated with people suffering heat-related illnesses as temperatures topped 100 Degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius) across much of central and eastern portions of the country. The National Weather Service says the hot spell is expected to worsen with temperatures spiraling up to 115* F (46* C). Meteorologists warned the death toll could rise, likening the hot conditions to the punishing heat wave of 1995 that, in Chicago alone, led to 750 deaths over just a few days.
Be on the alert for the symptoms of heat stroke: High body temperature (higher than 104* F or 40* C), lack of sweating, flushed (red) skin; rapid breathing, racing heart rate and strong pulse (tachycardia); headache, neurological symptoms (seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, hallucinating, difficulty speaking or understanding what others are saying) and/or muscle cramps or weakness. Temperatures topped 123* F (51* C) in Iowa, 108* F, (42* C) and 108* F (42 C) in Washington D.C. The intense heat is set to stay in place through the weekend.
If you believe you, or someone you are with, has heat stroke; take the following action(s) immediately: Get to a shady or air-conditioned place, cool off with damp sheets and a fan, take a cool shower or bath, rehydrate (drink water or a sports drinks – sip slowly and call your doctor if you’re concerned), and don’t drink beverages with alcohol or caffeine to rehydrate (these drinks may interfere with your body’s ability to control your body temperature). A possible complication of heat stroke is shock, which is a condition caused by a sudden loss of blood flow. Signs of shock include a very low blood pressure, blue lips and nails, and cool, clammy skin. Shock can damage your organs if it’s not treated quickly.
If you don’t act quickly, treating heat stroke, you could die or experience damage to your brain or other vital organs. In response to heat stroke, these organs swell, and if you don’t cool your body temperature quickly, the damage from this swelling could be permanent. Heat stroke can be a serious medical condition. Don’t become a “Body Disaster.”
The Master of Disaster