Weather Forecast


Be safe when heat's on

The arrival of summer is accompanied by warm-weather images, such as swimming, camping, biking, hiking and picnics.

People in northern climates tend to value high thermometer readings more than others because they're comparatively short-lived up here. And while the outdoor opportunities they enhance are indeed reason to look forward to this season, there are some safety factors to consider.

Genuine summer for North dwellers means daytime highs of 80s, 90s and beyond. As the heat builds, state health officials urge everyone to be aware of the dangers and take protective safety measures, according to information from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services.

Heat-related illnesses mainly target the elderly or those with chronic illnesses, but children, athletes and outdoor workers are also at risk. Individuals--especially children and infants--as well as pets shouldn't be left unattended in vehicles for even brief periods. Windows opened slightly aren't enough to prevent temperatures inside a car or truck from rising to life-threatening levels in a matter of minutes.

Sustained temperatures in excess of 90 degrees pose a risk of heat-related illness and death, especially when humidity levels exceed 35 percent. General symptoms of heat exhaustion include fainting, rash, fatigue and nausea. Skin may become clammy and moist or hot and dry. The onset of heat stroke can be rapid and may progress to life-threatening illness within minutes. If heat-related symptoms appear, take immediate actions to reduce body temperature.

Here are some recommendations when temperatures are above 90 degrees: drink more fluids to avoid dehydration (rapid weight loss may be a sign of dehydration); spend the hottest part of the day in a cool, preferably air-conditioned place; don't plan strenuous activities during the warmest part of the day; use fans to increase ventilation until temperatures exceed 90 degrees (at which point they become ineffective in reducing heat-related illness); take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath to reduce body temperatures (wet clothing also has a cooling effect); and make frequent checks on the status of elderly or ill relatives or neighbors and move them to an air-conditioned environment during the hottest parts of the day.

This type of weather is sometimes referred to as "firecracker weather" and that reminds of another summertime activity for which caution must be exercised. In 2007, approximately 6,300 Americans were treated in emergency rooms across the country due to fireworks-related injuries around the Independence Day holiday, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. More than 40 percent of all fireworks injuries were to children under age 15 and sparklers accounted for the most injuries requiring medical attention to children ages four and under.

Prevent Blindness Wisconsin recommends the following should an eye injury occur: (if there are specks in the eye) don't rub the eye, use an eye wash or let tears wash out specks or particles, lift the upper eyelid outward and then down over the lower lid, and, if it doesn't wash out, keep the eye closed, bandage and see a doctor or go to the emergency room; (if the eye or eyelid is cut or punctured) don't wash out the eye with water, don't try to remove an object stuck in the eye, cover the eye with a rigid shield without pressure (the bottom half of a paper cup may be used) and see a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.

Have a fun but safe summer!