As brutal summer temperatures arrive in southern Nevada, the need to avoid heat-related illnesses should be a top priority for Pahrump’s most susceptible individuals.
Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services Chief Scott Lewis said there are at least two groups who should be monitored carefully as the official beginning of summer arrives later this month – children and the elderly.
“You want make sure they are properly hydrated and covered with sunscreen,” he said. “It’s the same with the elderly because they have a tendency to quickly become dehydrated and they are more susceptible to injuries such as slips and falls. If they were to fall outside during the summer and are not accounted for, it could quickly turn into a fatal situation.”
Lewis said during extremely hot and humid weather, the body’s ability to cool itself is compromised, which is why parents and caregivers should know what symptoms to look for regarding heat cramps, exhaustion or the potentially fatal heat stroke.
“Overly sweating and in some cases no sweating can be signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion,” he said. “In some cases when it’s really bad you actually stop sweating and that’s when it becomes extremely dangerous because your body no longer has the ability to cool itself.”
Other symptoms, Lewis said, are nausea and vomiting, dizziness, cramps and fainting.
“A number of things come into play with both heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” he said. “The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the hours when people, if they can, should be seeking shelter. Whether you’re in the construction industry working outside, or just simply gardening you want to try to stay as covered as much as possible.”
Lewis also said there are some liquids that promote rehydration better than others.
“You can’t overly stress hydration,” he said. “That doesn’t mean every beverage available can properly hydrate us. Without going into any specific products, water is the key and it’s important to make sure we keep plenty with us especially when we travel. In the event you break down along the roadside, you’ll be able to take care of yourself.”
Nationally each year, dozens of children and pets left in parked vehicles die from hypothermia.
Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate.
The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies have not developed the ability to efficiently regulate their internal temperature.
Lewis said parents should never leave a child or pet alone in a parked car.
“If you cannot sit in a car without the air conditioning on and the windows rolled up you can’t expect anyone else to be placed in that situation,” he said. “I know pets enjoy riding in cars but you can’t leave them in the vehicle or even in the bed of a truck. Pets and livestock can also fall victim to the summer heat if they not provided with shade.”
The backyard swimming pool is always a source for summertime enjoyment.
Lewis said pool safety is also a big issue and it’s paramount for parents to take every precaution as pool season arrives this summer.
“You want to make sure you have appropriate fencing and gating around the pool and never leave children unattended,” he said. “Even with animals, it’s the same thing and there’s all kinds of pool safety aspects families need to be aware of.”
While some cities, towns and municipalities provide what’s known as “cooling stations” during the summer- time, Lewis noted that similar local resources are limited.
“We don’t have those on a regular basis but in the event we have a severe weather-related issue like a heatwave, historically we’ve opened some sites including the Bob Ruud Community Center, which allows people to go and get a drink of cold water and cool off for a period of time,” Lewis said.
As far as how Lewis and his crew handle summertime in Pahrump, he said his crew members routinely train to perform under oppressive heat conditions.
“Our crews handle the heat by simply keeping themselves hydrated and in our training, we focus on what we will be experiencing in any given situation,” he said. “We actually conduct the training with the mindset that this is how we’re going to be operating and of course we have a regular rehab center that we establish to make sure everybody’s hydrated and have a time out for rest.”
The first official day of summer is Sunday June 21 at 9:38 a.m.