The Heat is On: Take care to prevent heat-related illness

So far this summer, temperatures in Asheville have been flirting with record highs. And with plenty of upcoming outdoor events like Bele Chere to choose from, the City of Asheville is asking people to be aware of the ways to prevent heat related illnesses as well as recognize their symptoms.

Whether working or playing, overexposure to heat has the potential to cause problems like heat exhaustion or stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include pale, clammy skin, excessive sweating and weakness. Heat stroke symptoms include extremely high body temperature, hot, dry flushed skin, rapid pulse rate, headache and nausea. Anyone displaying those symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.

Being prepared can make for a safer and more enjoyable outside experience, especially in environments like the three-day Bele Chere festival.

Asheville Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Kelley Webb says festival attendees should pay extra attention while enjoying the downtown festivities.

“Festival goers should keep hydrated and regulate the amount of time in the sun,” Webb says. “Especially be aware of your children and limit their exposure to the heat and sun. Please listen to your body and its reaction to the heat and sun and try not to wait until it is too late.”

Here are tips to staying healthy in the heat no matter the occasion:

― Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Water, juice, sports drinks or even milk will help. Soda is not an effective hydrator.

― Watch your intake of alcoholic beverages. Drinking alcohol, even the day before exposure to heat, can exacerbate dehydration.

― Wear lightweight, loose fitting and light-colored clothing that reflects the sun’s energy and allows air to circulate against the skin.

― Wear a hat or use an umbrella that shields the face, neck and head from sunlight.

― Avoid strenuous activity during the hotter parts of the day.

― Eat smaller meals throughout the day rather than large meals that can increase the body’s heat.

― Take breaks. Look for places to cool down in the shade, breeze or even air conditioning.

― Heat is dangerous to pets too. Don’t leave them in cars, and provide water when outside in the heat.

— Seek help if you or someone in your party begins showing signs of heat-related illness. Asheville Fire and Rescue will be operating booths within the Bele Chere festival to treat heat-related problems and other types of emergencies. “We will have first aid booths located throughout the festival area with personnel on site that can assist anyone who is feeling overheated,” Webb says.


Heat training for City of Asheville crews means safer employees

In recent weeks, the City of Asheville’s Risk Management office briefed city employees who work outside on the ways to avoid heat-related illness like heat exhaustion or stroke.

A variety of similar training sessions are regularly scheduled for City of Asheville employees who engage in strenuous work, and hit on relevant topics like back injury prevention, ladder safety, driving in extreme weather and eye and ear protection.

Like heat safety, such topics are not new to the city’s work crews, but City of Asheville Safety and Claims Administrator Patricia McAfee says reminders never hurt.

“I believe in empowering employees, and knowledge is power,” McAfee says. “The more they know about their environment, the better they’ll know how to protect themselves.”