Coaches Guide for Hot Weather Protocol

UpdatedWednesday December 23, 2015 byCheryl Erickson.

     A Guide to Preventing Hot Weather Illness 
Hot weather is a part of life in Texas, but long stretches of record-breaking heat and drought are extraordinary. During these prolonged heat waves, the risk of heat-related illnesses, injuries and deaths climbs dramatically.

What is the danger?
According to health experts, one of the most dangerous factors during excessively hot weather is the addition of humidity. The combination of heat and humidity results in heat stress on humans and animals by interfering with the body’s ability to cool itself through sweating. Victims of prolonged or high heat stress can develop heat cramps or heat exhaustion. If heat stress continues, the condition can progress to heat stroke and death. 

What are heat illness symptoms?
The warning signs of heat illness can be mild or severe, but all are important danger signals. The most serious heat-related conditions are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Signs of heat exhaustion include: 

  • profuse sweating
  • headache
  • paleness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • muscle cramps
  • a weak-but-rapid pulse
  • tiredness
  • fast and shallow breathing
  • dizziness
  • fainting

Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.

Heat stroke occurs when the body’s cooling system fails. Sweating stops, and the body temperature can quickly exceed 106qF.

Among heat stroke’s symptoms are:

  • extremely  high  (usually  more  than  105qF  orally)  body temperature
  • red and dry skin
  • failure to sweat
  • rapid pulse
  • throbbing headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • unconsciousness

Coma, paralysis and death can follow if emergency treatment is not immediately given.

Who is most at risk?
Prolonged or intense heat stress can be fatal to anyone, but people older than 60 appear to have the highest risk for death from heat illness, especially if they are frail, or have pre-existing heart disease, respiratory problems or diabetes. To a lesser extent, babies and young children--especially those left unattended in cars or enclosures--people with a history of alcoholism and others using certain drugs and medications are at high risk of heat illness. 
People most at risk of heat illness from exertion may include: athletes, military personnel, manual laborers, farm workers and people who have diabetes or are obese. Anyone unused to high temperature and humidity may become ill during exertion.

How can you help someone with heat illness? 
If the victim shows signs of heat exhaustion, help the victim to gradually cool off with water or non-alcoholic, caffeine-free drinks. Other treatments may include cool showers, rest in an air-conditioned place and wearing less clothing. If the victim shows signs of heat stroke, get the victim into shade or a cooler area, call 9-1-1 for emergency medical service and use any means to start cooling, such as immersing in cool water, spraying with a garden hose or fanning vigorously. Continue cooling efforts until the victim’s temperature drops to 101-102qF. If emergency personnel have not arrived, call a hospital for advice. Get medical help as soon as possible. 

How can you avoid heat stress? 
Using common sense to stay cool is the most important protection and taking responsibility to help older people, young children and others is the most important protection a family or community has for the health of all its members.

In excessive heat:

  • drink two-to-five times more than usual amounts of water and non- sugar, nonalcoholic beverages to replace fluids lost in perspiration.
  • wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing and wide- brimmed hats while in the sun.
  • use sunscreens with an SPF 15 or more.
  • take frequent breaks limiting physical activity. If warning signs, such as pounding heart and a shortness of breath occur, stop to rest in a cooler place.
  • stay in an air-conditioned area if possible. People who lack air conditioning at home may spend the hot hours of the day in air- conditioned public places. If no air conditioning is available, fans are helpful. x use a buddy system between co-workers in high-heat-stress jobs. 

People 65 or older should have a friend or relative check on them or call twice daily during a heat wave. Some cities offer air-conditioned heat-relief shelters and many suspend utility cut-offs for people who are unable to afford using their air conditioners. While planning activities, choose cooler hours to be outdoors. Before prolonged work or exercise away from the safety of air conditioning, listen to weather forecasts. Forecasters often predict both the heat and the humidity and give special heat warnings.

                        Air Quality Index (AQI) Ozone Precautions 

Color  AQI Protect  Your Health  Air Quality 
Green 0-50 None Good
Yellow 51-100 Unusually sensitive people should consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion Moderate
Orange 101-150 Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Unhealthy for sensitive groups
Red 151-200 Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Unhealthy
Purple 201-300 Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion. Very Unhealthy