Noble McIntyre on June 2, 2011
June is National Safety Month, and the National Safety Council has outlined a theme for each week to spread awareness of important safety issues. In particular, the Council would like to prevent unintentional injury and death by informing people about safe and healthy practices. Unintentional injury and death is a pressing issue in the United States and is on the rise. In 2009, unintentional deaths reached an estimated 128, 200, the highest on record. The 2009 estimate is 47% greater than the 1992 estimate of 86,777. Along with unintentional deaths, the financial burden is very staggering. The cost of these injuries to Americans and their employers exceeds $693 billion nationally, which comes out to $5,900 per household. Statistics, however, cannot measure the immense amount of suffering that is affiliated with these deaths and injuries.
Week one’s theme is summertime safety, which is very fitting considering the summer season is traditionally known as a time of increased unintentional injuries and deaths. The National Safety Council has provided important safety tips dealing with a variety of summertime activities, including playground safety and safe bicycling. A particular focus of the Council is on surviving the hot weather that is associated with the summer months. Anyone living in Oklahoma can certainly attest to the fact that the summer heat can be downright brutal. Increased temperatures lead to an increased risk of heat illness, which includes a range of disorders.
When your body builds up too much heat, your body temperature may rise to life-threatening levels and can damage your brain or other vital organs. Heatstroke is the most serious and life threatening heat-related illness and therefore it is imperative that everyone know the symptoms of heatstroke so that appropriate actions can be taken. Symptoms of heatstroke include the victim’s body feeling extremely hot when touched and altered behavior. Victims may also become irrational, agitated, aggressive, and may even have a seizure. In some instances, the victim may even go into a coma. If you believe that someone is suffering from heatstroke, the following measures should be taken:
Heat exhaustion occurs when someone has water or salt depletion or becomes severely dehydrated. This typically occurs when people do not drink enough fluids while working or exercising. Symptoms include severe thirst, fatigue, headache, nausea, sweating, clammy and pale skin, dizziness, and rapid pulse. If you believe you have heat exhaustion:
Heat cramps are muscle spasms that affect the legs and abdominal muscles. Usually, this occurs after physical activity when people sweat or do not drink enough fluids. If you believe you are having a muscle spasm:
It is important to always err on the safe side when deciding if you are being affected by a heat-related illness. If you are uncertain if your symptoms have met the threshold of falling into one of the above-mentioned categories, do the wise thing and institute the applicable safety measures.
To be extra safe, you can institute preventive measures to significantly decrease the risks of being affected by a heat-related illness. The Gatorade Sports Science Institute has provided 10 tips to “Beat the Heat”.
Next week’s safety theme is preventing overexertion.