National Safety Month South Florida Summers: How to Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses

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June is National Safety Month, and along with the National Safety Council (NSC), we seek to raise awareness for the many preventable injuries and deaths that occur each year in the U.S.  We want our clients and all Floridians to be safe at work, at play, and on the road.

According to Injury Facts 2016, the NSC’s annual publication on unintentional injuries and deaths, over 136,000 Americans lost their lives from accidental injuries in 2014.  These deaths were caused  by injuries sustained while engaging in recreational activities, chores at home, and driving.

In this post, we’ll focus on one of the common hazards encountered daily by South Floridians — the hot, Florida sun.  From May through September, our South Florida heat and humidity can cause unexpected consequences if residents and visitors don’t take precautions.  According to Injury Facts 2017, 244 Americans died from “exposure to excessive heat” in 2014. [1]

Illnesses caused by too much exposure to heat include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  Heat illnesses can become severe quickly, compromising the body, damaging organs, and potentially even leading to death.  As with many diseases, certain populations including the elderly, infants, and children have a higher risk of developing complications from heat-related illnesses.  In addition, pets, athletes, alcoholics, drug users, people who work outside, and those with other serious illnesses are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses. [2]

Here is what you need to know to help combat these dangerous, heat-related conditions:

Heatstroke occurs when a body is not able to sweat sufficiently to cool off and the body temperature rises.  This condition can severely damage organs and lead to death.  Someone experiencing heatstroke may have skin that feels hot to the touch, have seizures, and appear delirious, confused, or in a coma.  In the case of heatstroke, treat the person by:

  • Moving them to the shade and putting them in a reclining position.
  • Call 911
  • If there is high humidity (as is typical in South Florida), put ice on the neck, groin and/or armpits.
  • Do not give any liquids, aspirin or acetaminophen.

Heat exhaustion can occur when a person loses too much water and body salt.  Someone suffering from heat exhaustion may feel thirst, nausea and exhaustion, and may begin vomiting or have diarrhea.  The individual may also experience an increased temperature and a rapid heartbeat.  If someone has heat exhaustion, help them by:

  • Moving them to shade or air conditioning
  • Apply cool, wet towels or encourage a cold shower
  • Give them cool, non-alcoholic beverages

Heat cramps occur when exercise and heavy sweating reduces salt in the body, producing leg or abdominal cramps.  Athletes or people working outside experiencing these symptoms should:

  • Recline and stretch out cramped muscles in the shade or air conditioning
  • Drink cool water or drinks with electrolytes
  • Call 911 if individual has heart problems
  • If cramps don’t subside within 60 minutes, obtain medical attention

In general, the NSC recommends the following to avoid complications from the heat:

  • Limit exposure outdoors on hot days, especially from 11am – 3pm
  • Wear light-colored, lightweight, loose clothing
  • Always use a hat to shade your face
  • Drink plenty of water and supplement salt lost from sweating by consuming drinks with electrolytes such as sports drinks or even fruit juice

Whether you are heading to the beach, playing in the pool, or taking a brisk morning walk, follow the aforementioned recommendations to enjoy  our South Florida summers and stay safe.   Additional information on preventing heat-related illness can be found at the NSC and CDC websites.

Goldman & Daszkal, P.A.

Since 1990, Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. has provided reputable legal representation to people throughout Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties.  The firm has helped thousands of individuals recover compensation from motor vehicle and boating accidents, slip and fall accidents, product defect and liability cases, pharmacy errors, and negligent security cases to cover medical expenses, pay bills, take care of their families, and return to work.  Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. can help you get the relief you need to start living your life again after a serious injury.  For a free and confidential consultation, contact Goldman & Daszkal, P.A., at (954) 428-9333.

[1] NSC Injury Facts 2017

[2] NSC Heat Illnesses Can be Fatal; Would You Know What to Do?

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