Heat Exhaustion

hotHeat exhaustion presents with symptoms such as rapid pulse and heavy sweating and is a result of overheating. There are three syndromes related to heat: heat cramps are the mildest, heat exhaustion sits between this and heatstroke.

The cause of heat exhaustion can be due to exposure to high temperatures, this is a particular issue when it is combined with high humidity, as well as strenuous physical activity. Heat exhaustion is preventable, however, without treatment it can lead to heatstroke, this is a life threatening condition.

The symptoms could develop over time, or suddenly and include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Faintness
  • Moist and cool skin that is goose bumped in heat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Headache
  • Nausea

If you believe you are experiencing heat exhaustion stop physical activity and rest in a cool place, drink plenty of water or sports drinks. If your symptoms are worsening, or do not improve within an hour then contact your doctor. If your body temperature is 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher seek medical attention immediately.

Your body regulates its heat gain and heat loss from the environment in order to sustain its core temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The body heat is combined with environmental heat to create your core, or internal, temperature.

One of the ways our bodies regulate our heat in hot weather is by sweating. When you subject your body to strenuous exercise in hot and humid weather your body struggles to cool itself efficiently.

Consequently, your body could develop heat cramps, the mildest heat related illness. The symptoms of heat cramps are fatigue, thirst, muscle cramps and heavy sweating. To prevent this from developing into heat exhaustion drink fluids, or electrolyte packed sports drinks, find shade or a cooler temperature and rest.

There are other causes of heat cramp, that can include dehydration, alcohol use, and overdressing.

While anyone can be the victim of heat exhaustion, there are certain factors which increase heat sensitivity.

  • Age- children younger than the age of 4, and adults over 65 are at a greater risk of heat exhaustion. Children’s bodies are not fully developed thus unable to regulate temperature. For older adult’s slight illness, medications and other factors can make them more susceptible to heat exhaustion.
  • Drugs- there are a number of medications that can affect the body’s ability to remain hydrated. They include tranquilizers, allergy medicines, beta blockers, diuretics, as well as antipsychotics. Additionally, there are a number of illegal drugs like amphetamines and cocaine that actually increase the core temperature.
  • Obesity- your body retains more heat when you are carrying extra weight, as it affects the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
  • Sudden changes in temperature- if you have travelled to a warmer climate and you are not used to dealing with heat then you are at a greater risk of heat exhaustion.
  • High Heat Index- this is a temperature value that takes the outdoor temperature and humidity level into account. If humidity is high your sweat won’t evaporate as easily, therefore your body can’t cool itself properly. This leaves you at risk for heat exhaustion. When the heat index reaches 91 degrees Fahrenheit or higher you are at risk.

If heat exhaustion is left untreated it can result in heatstroke, heatstroke is a life threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. It can lead to permanent brain damage, as well as shut down major organs.

Medical personnel will take your temperature to confirm the diagnosis as well as to rule out heatstroke. If they suspect heatstroke you will be given: a blood test, a urine test, imaging tests, and muscle function tests.

In the majority of cases you can treat your own heat exhaustion. Rest in a cool place, drink non-alcoholic fluids that contribute to hydration, use cool towels on your skin, remove unnecessary clothing and only wear loose and lightweight clothing. If this doesn’t improve you within an hour you will need intravenous fluids for rehydration.

Your best bet, however, is to take steps to ensure that you do not succumb to any heat related illnesses.

  • Choose light colored clothing that is loose-fitting and lightweight. Dark, tight clothing attracts and holds heat in which doesn’t allow your body to cool properly.
  • Apply sunscreen and wear a hat. avoiding sunburn is an excellent way to protect yourself, as sunburn limits your body’s ability to regulate its heat.
  • Seek shade. If you can manage to spend some time in an air conditioned building for a few hours that is ideal, however, if your home or vacation spot doesn’t have AC head to the store/mall. If none of this is possible, look for shade.
  • If you’re on the job, there should be a job safety analysis worksheet outlining any steps you should take for that particular task.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids is vital to maintaining a normal body temperature, and avoid alcohol. If you have a health condition that requires you to limit your fluid intake, then check with your doctor to be sure how much extra fluids you will need to drink.
  • Watch your medications. Check with your pharmacist, or doctor, about whether your medication leaves you susceptible to heat exhaustion and ask what you can do to counteract that.
  • Dodge hot spots. Once your car has been left parked in the heat the temperature rises as much as 20 degrees in only 10 minutes. So before you drive anywhere give your car time to cool down. Never leave anyone (child, adult, or animal) in a parked car in hot weather, regardless of the length of time.
  • Give your body time to acclimatize. If you’re heading somewhere hot your body needs time to get used to it, so don’t attempt any strenuous activities until your body is used to it.

You should always avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, if you live in a hot climate opt for an early morning or evening workout to take advantage of the break in heat. If you have no choice but to engage in vigorous activities, then make sure you take regular breaks in order to drink fluids so that your body can regulate its temperature.

Freeway Safety

freewayOne of the most important thing to remember when you are driving is that you are operating a two-ton machine, and so is everyone else on the road. With that in mind, taking care in your journey is paramount to your safety and everyone else on the roads.

Here are a few things you can do to improve your safety on the freeway:

Ensure that you have a good idea of where you are going and the path you will take to get to your final destination. Once in your vehicle ensure your mirrors are in the correct position and that you aware of your blind spots.

Do not wear a headset, or cover your ears in any way- if you have music playing do not blare it loudly.

Keep at least a cars length distance between you and the person in front of you and look well beyond the vehicles that are ahead of you. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Check your mirrors before changing lanes and if you do have a blind spot, physically turn your head to check before changing. Do not use your horn unless it is a safety warning.

Ensure that you are following the speed limit, if you need to drive slowly stay in the right hand lane as not to prevent the flow of traffic.

If a driver is attempting to pass you, allow them to do so, regardless of whether you believe your speed is sufficient or not.

When merging on the freeway do so at the same speed as the rest of the traffic, or as close to as possible. Remember that freeway traffic has the right of way.

Be courteous: always use your indicators to alert drivers to your movements, and pay attention to their signals, too. Yield for others when necessary and dim your headlights for oncoming traffic.

Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, furthermore avoid driving when angry.

Leave in enough time to factor in delays, speeding to arrive on time puts you and other drivers in unnecessary danger.

Ensure you check your mirrors often and that you are aware of the vehicles that are around you. Don’t just look, but observe.

Do not use high beams on the freeway, unless there is no other traffic.

Do not use the emergency lane as a passing lane, and do not attempt to pass off the paved part of the road.

Signal for at least five seconds before making your lane change, and ensure there is a safe distance between cars before you change lanes.

In the event of an emergency vehicle needing passage move to the extreme right until they have safely passed. It’s illegal to follow within 300 feet of an emergency vehicle in the midst of answering a call.

Do not litter. Not only will you be fine, but a conviction for littering forms part of your driving record.

Unless you are making a turn, or overtaking a vehicle, you should not travel in the center of a three lane road.

In the event of a breakdown there are a number of steps to take in order to ensure the safety of yourself and other drivers.

Move off the road.

Cars don’t generally stop dead, they usually start to display “symptoms” which gives you time to pull over and get your car as far to the side of the road as possible. (In the event of a complete and total breakdown turn your hazard lights on immediately, do not get out of the car- call for help immediately.)

When you have pulled safely off the road, engage your hazard lights, put your car in park, engage your emergency brake and steer your wheel away from the road. This will ensure that your care doesn’t somehow roll into oncoming traffic.

Call for Help

The majority of us have cell phones these days, it is imperative that you keep your phone charged when planning any journey.  Call for help.

Alert Other Drivers to Your Distress

You have put your hazard lights on, however there are a number of reasons people do this so this doesn’t necessarily communicate car problems.

If you can exit your vehicle safely and have road flares, place two flares at least 50 feet behind your vehicle. If not, raising your hood is a pretty clear indication that you’re in trouble.

Stay at the Car

You’ve already called for help, and roadside services don’t tend to take that long in responding- they can’t proceed without you. Not to mention that being a pedestrian on a freeway is incredibly dangerous, instead practice patience rather than risking your life to speed things up.

Don’t Tinker

Unless you have experience with auto repair it’s best that you don’t attempt to solve the problem yourself. It might be a flat tire and you know how to change it, but you’ve never had to. Changing a tire can be tricky, but sitting on the shoulder of the freeway is probably not the greatest place to try it out for the first time. If you are a skilled tire changer you may proceed with caution, however, ideally wait for a police officer to appear in order to slow traffic so you can do so safely.

Apply Common Sense

If you happen to have broken down and you know you are out of gas and that there is a gas station right there– then by all means, proceed with caution. Don’t exit your vehicle on the side where the traffic is flowing and if it is dark do not proceed without a flashlight.

Stranger Danger

It goes without saying that there are a number of good Samaritans who would never drive by someone who is in trouble. Unfortunately, the world we live can be a scary place and for every good Samaritan willing to stop, there is an opportunistic bad egg looking for a vulnerable victim. If someone pulls over and offers to help stay in your car with the doors locked. You can roll down your window enough to explain the situation and let them know you’re waiting for roadside assistance to arrive. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Controlling Your Temper With Road Rage

trafficThe majority of us have encountered some form of road rage, whether on the receiving end or the one shaking a fist. It can be absolutely terrifying to view and the statistics back up how dangerous road rage truly is.

According to the NHTSA 94% of traffic accidents are caused by human error. Of all of those, 33% of them are linked to road rage like behaviors. For instance: misunderstanding the intent of other drivers, or illegal maneuvers.

The AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety completed a study in 1990 and reviewed over 10,000 accidents that were linked to driver violence. They discovered that, over a 7-year period, over 12,500 injuries could be linked to driver violence. Those incidents resulted in 218 deaths that could be linked to road rage, and that most of those were deliberate murders carried out by angry drivers. Unfortunately, that number has been rising steadily- 7% every year.

Aggressive driving has been linked to 66% of recent traffic fatalities, and 37% were caused by a firearm as opposed to a collision.

Many drivers move from victim to aggressor in response to angry drivers, and half of drivers admitted as much in an AAA poll. This leads to more accidents, and more deaths. It may feel good in that moment, but seeking retribution escalates minor incidents to dangerous driving. It is not only you that you put at risk when you engage in this behavior, but everyone on the road.

There are a number of ways to avoid road rage, and many are in your hands to prevent a situation from arising. By following the rules of the road and being a courteous driver you limit the risk. Slow driving in the fast lane, tailgating, and cutting people off are sure fire ways to incite anger.

If you are on the receiving end of someone’s rage, do not engage. Let them have plenty of room to move away from you, do not make eye contact and stay in a populated area. The most important step is to remain calm in order to diffuse the situation, rather than escalating it, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

While the behavior of other drivers can trigger outbursts, it is more to do with stress issues at work, or at home.

It is important to never take it personally. If someone drives badly that has nothing to do with you, it wasn’t personal that they cut you off or crowded you out of your lane. It could have been a momentary lapse of concentration, or they could be driving stressed or angry. However, it is their problem, not yours. You were not the cause of it and it is your choice to remain calm and not escalate the problem.

You can be a compassionate driver. Have you ever made a mistake while driving, or gotten behind the wheel to drive to an emergency, a funeral, or a stressful meeting? There could be a number of reasons for people driving badly, so rather than jumping to the conclusion that someone is a moron and getting angry about it- cut them some slack. You never know what someone else is going through, and understanding that could play a part in their driving it allows you to remain calm.

Visualize peace. This works whether you’re driving or not. Repeating positive affirmations is a great way to reduce your stress.

Just because you are a good driver, or you have made the decision to be a courteous driver… doesn’t mean everyone has. Don’t expect other drivers to behave as you expect them to. The reason we need to remain so aware on the road is because we never know how other drivers will react. Some people are rude, and as a result some people are rude drivers. Unfortunately, that is just a fact of life.

There are consequences of road rage. Yes, it feels amazing to let our frustrations out, but just consider how road rage feels: stressed, tense, angry, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure rises. You could end up destroying someone else’s car, or your own, it could lead to a criminal record, jail, potentially losing your job, as well as the cost of your insurance increasing. Not to mention that it could result in an accident in which you or others are injured or killed, or worse: it could escalate outside of the vehicle and result in violence.

Look at those consequences and tell me that indulging a moment of road rage is worth it?

Instead, you should remain calm and feel happier, reduce your risk of accident, injury or death, you won’t be heading to jail, walking away with a criminal record, or dealing with all of the added stresses that come with the consequence of road rage.

Consider the facts of road rage: over a third of road rage incidents involve firearms, it has been the cause of over 12,000 injuries that could have been prevented, and every year 1,500 people die because of road rage.

While men are the more likely gender to experience daily road rage, men between 35 and 50 are the most susceptible. September is the month where most incidents occur, and Tuesdays at 5:45 are also statistically higher.

People who indulge in road rage see it as a personal threat to them, and their families- that’s what 60% of drivers surveyed said. Speeding is considered aggressive driving and when surveyed only 14% of drivers felt that driving 10 miles over the limit was extremely dangerous. Of those drivers that fall into the unsafe category 62% of them have not been stopped by police over the last year.

Not only are aggressive drivers more likely to drink and drive, they are also more likely to drive without securing their seat belt. Unfortunately, the statistics aren’t likely to improve as over 90% of Americans drive every day and 40 hours of their year are spent in traffic jams. 56% of men said they feel road rage on a daily basis, while 44% of women say the same. Unfortunately, there are no official road rage statistics as no government agency tracks these incidents, so the most recent data is from 1997.