Whether it’s an Ultimate Frisbee tournament set up by the youth group, a festival for the children’s area, or a church-sponsored softball team for small groups, many churches hold outdoor events during the warm summer months. While these events are a fun way to reach out to the community, it’s important to keep an eye on the participants, because if you’re unprepared for heat-related illness, things can get hot fast.
Excessive heat is defined as temperatures that hover 10 degrees or more above the average high for the region and is coupled with high humidity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat waves are a leading cause of extreme weather-related deaths in the United States, killing more than 500 people each year.
Heat Cramps. The mildest heat-related condition, heat cramps, consists of muscle pain and spasms caused by heavy physical exertion in high heat. While not deadly, heat cramps are a warning sign that your body is becoming stressed by the heat. If any members of your church develop muscle cramps, it is important to:
Do NOT provide liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine, as they can worsen conditions by causing further dehydration.
Heat Exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is the second most serious of the three heat-related disorders. Some symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
These symptoms may start suddenly or may develop gradually after days of heat exposure.
If you suspect that people are suffering from heat exhaustion, it is important to:
Seek medical attention if they don’t begin to feel better within 60 minutes, or if their body temperature reaches 104ºF or higher.
Heatstroke. Heatstroke is the most serious of the three heat-related conditions, and is a medical emergency requiring immediate professional medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure, or death. Call 911 immediately. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent permanent injury or death while waiting for emergency responders to arrive:
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
If your church has planned outdoor activities this summer, it is important to warn participants of the danger excessive heat poses. Here are some tips to keep everyone healthy and cool, in spite of the heat:
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