Heat Wave Prompts Warning from Red Cross Officials


After about a month of temperatures that stayed below 90, the temperatures have once again risen to what could be a dangerous high, and the American Red Cross is urging people to stay safe in the summer heat.

"Excessive heat can be deadly; it has caused more deaths in recent years than all other weather events," said Tina Labellarte, Red Cross CEO for the Nebraska/SW Iowa region. "We want everyone to stay safe during the hot weather and have some reminders for them to follow when the weather is hot and humid."

Warning number one from the agency is to never leave children or pets inside a vehicle as the temperature inside a car can quickly reach 120 degrees, even with the windows down.

Additionally, the Red Cross advises:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun's rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
  • If someone doesn't have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

Excessive heat can lead to many dangerous situations including sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The Red Cross advises people experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen find a cool place to rest and lightly stretch the affected area. They say fluids should be replenished with a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion -- cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion -- the Red Cross advises moving them to a cooler place, removing loosening tight clothing and spraying the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin.

If they are conscious, officials advise giving small amounts of cool water to drink, making sure they don't drink too quickly. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, it is advised to call 911.

Heat stroke is an extreme, life-threatening risk of being out in the heat. Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature.

Health officials advise calling 911 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person's body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

For more tips on how to stay safe when the heat strikes, visit