August 29, 2014

Officials warn of heat-related deaths

Emergency officials are warning about the dangers of extreme heat.

Heat can kill, especially in consecutive days of hot temperatures.

“If you take the tornadoes and floods and winter storms, if you add all those together — tornadoes, everything — it doesn’t even come close to matching the people that we lose to heat.”

Tod Pritchard with Wisconsin Emergency Management says almost all heat-related deaths are preventable. Last year, Wisconsin had 24 heat-related deaths. In 1995, two major killer heat waves resulted in 154 deaths and over 300 illnesses.

If you feel symptoms, it might be too late. “You’ve got to call 911 at that moment because heat stroke can take a life in a matter of minutes. So you really don’t have much time.”

None of the victims in previous years had air conditioning and did not seek shelter at one of the many cooling centers which opened around the state. If you know anyone who’s vulnerable, Pritchard says you need to be a “heat buddy” and get them to a cooler environment.

Also, never leave pets or animals in a closed car, ever. “Cars can heat so fast, even just on a run-of-the-mill 80-degree day in Wisconsin  the inside temperature of your car can go up to about 99 degrees in ten minutes, and 109 in just 20 minutes.”

When temps get high limit physical activity on extremely hot days, drink lots of water, avoid alcohol, eat lightly, take cool showers.

Thursday June 13 is Wisconsin Heat Awareness Day.

Tips to keep safe in hot weather:

1. Never leave children, disabled persons, or pets in a parked car – even briefly.
2. Keep your living space cool.
3. Slow down and limit physical activity.
4. Drink plenty of water and eat lightly.
5. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
6. Don’t stop taking medication unless your doctor says you should.
7. Taking a cool shower or bath will cool you down.

Follow Ready Wisconsin on twitter and facebook for up-to-date information on emergency issues. Also, visit their YouTube page.