SIDNEY — Summer’s extreme temperatures cause the mercury in thermometers to rise. And it can also cause exhaustion problems for people who work or play outside all summer long.
“As you know, sometimes it gets warm out there in July and August,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly phone interview. “Four hundred people die a year from heat strokes.”
The combination of high temperatures and humidity can cause health problems for children and adults alike.
“If there are high temperatures and humidity, low fluid consumption and no shade — these can lead to heat stroke,” said Lenhart. “Bulky clothing, or too much clothing, can also cause problems. Heat exhaustion is also possible during hot summer days.”
Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat, heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea and headache.
“If your body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, that’s another sign of heat exhaustion,” said Lenhart.
If possible, he said, people outside for extended lengths of time should use a cold compress on their head or neck to help control their body’s temperature.
“Water on the face and neck will help too,” he said. “You should take sips of cool water.”
Salt can be added to water to help release the body’s salt that is lost through sweating, he said.
Some ways to prevent heat stroke or heat exhaustion, he said, includes wearing light colored clothing. The clothing should also be loose on your body.
“My dad always wore long sleeved shirts and long trousers when I was growing up,” said Lenhart. “He also wore a hat.”
A wide-brimmed hat, he said, is better than a baseball cap as it protects your neck and face better. A person should also use sunscreen to protect your skin from the sunlight’s strong rays of ultraviolet light.
Sunglasses are also recommended to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays.
“The hottest time of the day is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” said Lenhart. “As a farmer, we were always up early doing the hardest chores. Then we’d take a break and go back out and continue working.”
Keeping cool this summer includes taking frequent breaks, drinking small amounts of water throughout the day, wearing light clothing, eating smaller meals before working and avoiding caffeine.
Lenhart said a physician should be contacted to make sure the medications you’re on won’t have an adverse reaction with the summer’s high temperatures.
Another safety precaution during the summer deals with taking shortcuts when working on the farm or outside.
“The tools and machines you’re working with are important,” said Lenhart. “I am a farm boy and people like to take shortcuts. But those shortcuts are the leading cause of workplace injuries.
“If you have the right tools and the right machines, it doesn’t matter if your a farm boy or city person, don’t take chances with using a shortcut,” he said.
Lenhart said if you’ve decided to use a shortcut to get a job completed, you should stop and think about what you’re about to do.
“People don’t slow down and think it through the best way to do it,” said Lenhart. “The safest way is always the best way to complete a job.”
He said if you’re lifting and carrying items, you should use a wheelbarrow, forklift or two-wheel cart to make the job easier and safer.
And you should avoid “adult beverages” when doing any type of work, said Lenhart.
“Three percent of deaths are caused when a person is drinking adult beverages,” he said.
You should also use the proper safety equipment, such as goggles and ear protection.
Protect yourself from the sun and work injuries and have a safe summer, concluded Lenhart.
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.