Severe Weather Safety
Severe weather is now occurring more frequently. Heat conditions in the summer months, along with devastating wind and rain, as well as low temperatures experienced in the winter can put citizens at risk. MCSO has tips to keep you safe throughout each season of the year, rain or shine.
Extremely cold weather is rare in Central Florida, but when temperatures drop, MCSO wants you to remember these tips to stay safe while you stay warm:
- If you use portable heaters, be sure they have an automatic safety shut-off switch and never leave children unattended in rooms with portable heaters.
- Supervise children and pets at all times when a portable space heater is in use.
- Never use space heaters to dry flammable items such as clothing or blankets.
- Keep all flammable objects at least three feet from space heaters.
- Install smoke detectors on every level, test them monthly and replace batteries at least yearly.
- If any appliances or heating devices in your home produce carbon monoxide (CO), be sure to install CO detectors in your home and then test and properly maintain the detectors.
- Have a qualified service technician check and clean your heating system every year.
Normally, the body has ways of keeping itself cool, by letting heat escape through the skin, and by sweating/perspiration. If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, the victim may suffer a heat-related illness. Anyone can be susceptible although the very young and very old are at greater risk. Heat-related illnesses can become serious or even deadly if unattended. Use these tips to stay safe in the sun.
- Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats and sunglasses or to use an umbrella.
- Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
- Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein which increase metabolic heat.
- Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- Take regular breaks when engaged in physical activity on warm days. Take time out to find a cool place. If you recognize that you, or someone else, is showing the signals of a heat-related illness, stop activity and find a cool place. Remember, have fun, but stay cool!
- Never leave pets in a vehicle unattended on hot days.
Know what these terms mean:
- Heat Wave: More than 48 hours of high heat (90.0F or higher) and high humidity (80 percent relative humidity or higher) are expected.
- Heat Index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit that tells how hot it really feels with the heat and humidity. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15.0F.
- Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. They usually involve the abdominal muscles or the legs. It is generally thought that the loss of water and salt from heavy sweating causes the cramps.
- Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is less dangerous than heat stroke. It typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Fluid loss causes blood flow to decrease in the vital organs, resulting in a form of shock. With heat exhaustion, sweat does not evaporate as it should, possibly because of high humidity or too many layers of clothing. As a result, the body is not cooled properly. Signals include cool, moist, pale, flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
- Heat Stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high–sometimes as high as 105.0F.
FOR SEVERE WIND AND RAIN CONDITIONS, SEE HURRICANE SAFETY.