How hot is too hot?
For many, the heat of warmer months is uncomfortable, but for some it can be downright dangerous. Each year, many experience heat illness, which often manifests as heat exhaustion. This can be a real danger if not quickly addressed and can be fatal without the proper precautions. As we move into the warmer months, it is very important to take the steps necessary to keep students safe in extreme heat. Drinking water often, taking breaks, and limiting time in the heat are simple, effective ways to prevent heat illness.
Heat illness is the result of the body overheating, much the way your car can overheat in hot weather. Normally, the body’s "coolant" system prevents overheating. As perspiration evaporates, it cools the skin which cools the body and maintains a proper body temperature. Blood vessels also help bring heat to the skin’s surface and help cool it down. When students are playing in the heat, especially when it’s humid, their “coolant” system can get overloaded causing heart rate and body temperature to rise. This increases the risk of heart attack in people with heart disease. This heat can also affect the brain. A rise in body temperature of as little as 2 degrees can negatively impact brain function, making heat an underlying cause of sports and playing injuries. A 5 degrees rise in body temperature can be fatal. The first signs of trouble include symptoms such as fatigue, thirst, discomfort and lightheadedness. Simple heat stress, however, can quickly become heat exhaustion if early symptoms are ignored. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include a pale or flushed appearance, moist & clammy skin, weakness, dizziness, headache and nausea. Untreated heat exhaustion can become heat stroke. The heat stroke victim stops sweating, has hot, dry reddish skin, has a rapid pulse and feels hot to the touch, may be confused or delirious, may suffer convulsions, and may become unconscious.
Twenty percent of heat stroke victims die. Those who survive may suffer brain and kidney damage.
To help prevent students from becoming overcome by warmer weather, the Center of Disease Control offers these tips for preventing heat-related illness:
The best defense is prevention. Here are some prevention tips for your students:
If students must be out in the heat:
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.