Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hot Days at the Park

Hot Days at the Park

          Nothing can ruin a vacation or day of fun faster than Heat Stress. I know this from personal experience. Last Sunday I was at Disneyland and suffered from Heat Stress. So how do you avoid it when you are at Disneyland during the summer when the temperature hits 90° to 100° or even hotter?
          The first and most obvious is thing to do is hydrate. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Water is obviously best but if you have children that are feeling the effects of the heat anything will do, juice, watered-down juice or lemonade will do just fine. Even getting a frozen lemonade is a good idea.
          Don’t overdo it! Slow down! Yes it’s a shame you don’t get to go on all your favorite rides, but better you miss a few rides than suffer the consequences of overdoing it in the heat.
Many people worry about their salt intake, with good reason. But when you’re sweating in the heat your body needs a little more salt, so go ahead and have some popcorn or a salted pretzel. Unless you have a major medical problem that limits your salt intake a little extra salt is a good idea.
Go ahead and get wet! Getting what is a great way to cool off! Go ride a ride that gets you soaked or at least a little wet! Pirates of the Caribbean is a great ride for getting a little wet and you get to be in a cool environment for short time. Splash Mountain and grizzly River run will get you good and wet. David Crockett’s Canoes will get you a little wet, depending on your fellow riders. There are also several water fountains/water play areas at the two parks where you can get wet. Another good thing to do is take a hat you don’t mind getting wet. If you’re feeling a little overheated go to any counter service restaurant and asked for a glass of ice water. Drink some of the ice water and pour some in your hat! You can also get it wet at any water fountains/water play area or at any bathroom sink or drinking fountain.
I’ve mentioned getting your hat wet but you should also keep in on to give a little shade to your face and head. Consider bringing a small umbrella to give yourself portable shade. This can be invaluable while sitting waiting for or watching a show or parade. Small battery-powered fans and water misters can also be a lifesaver and don’t cost much.
If you feel you’re getting overheated STOP!!!! Stop what you’re doing and head to First Aid. They will be happy to give you an ice pack or frozen towel to put on your neck to cool down. This is also a good Cool Zone to go sit or lay down for a while out of the heat. Let the professionals assess how overheated you are.
During the heat of the day schedule things like indoor dining at a restaurant that has air conditioning, and seeing indoor shows or riding the longer indoor rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean or It’s a Small World. The Aladdin show or any other shaded/indoor show area is a good idea.
If you’re staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel or a local Good Neighbor hotel consider going back to the hotel where a swim and/or nap during the heat of the day.
Be mindful of the young and elderly in your group because they often do not realize the effect the heat is having on them and will put themselves inadvertently in danger. If you notice they are slowing down, speech is slurred, they are sweating profusely, or just can’t stay focused on what you’re saying take them directly to first aid. It is better to spend an hour cooling-off in first day then days out of your vacation in the hospital.
Here is a list of the different types of Heat Stress with symptoms and treatment. Adapted from the CDC.gov website.
Types of Heat Stress
Symptoms and Treatment
Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
·         Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
·         Hallucinations
·         Chills
·         Throbbing headache
·         High body temperature
·         Confusion/dizziness
·         Slurred speech
First Aid
Take the following steps to treat a person with heat stroke:
·         Call 911 and notify their supervisor. Contact any Cast Member and ask for First Aid.
·         Move the sick person to a cool shaded area.
·         Cool the person using methods such as:
o    Soaking their clothes with water.
o    Spraying, sponging, or showering them with water.
o    Fanning their body.
Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is the body's response to an excessive loss of the water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. Workers most prone to heat exhaustion are those that are elderly, have high blood pressure, and those working in a hot environment.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
·         Heavy sweating
·         Extreme weakness or fatigue
·         Dizziness, confusion
·         Nausea
·         Clammy, moist skin
·         Pale or flushed complexion
·         Muscle cramps
·         Slightly elevated body temperature
·         Fast and shallow breathing
First Aid
Treat a person suffering from heat exhaustion with the following:
·         Have them rest in a cool, shaded or air-conditioned area.
·         Have them drink plenty of water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages.
·         Have them take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
Heat Syncope
Heat syncope is a fainting (syncope) episode or dizziness that usually occurs with prolonged standing or sudden rising from a sitting or lying position. Factors that may contribute to heat syncope include dehydration and lack of acclimatization.
Symptoms of heat syncope include:
·         Light-headedness
·         Dizziness
·         Fainting
First Aid
Persons with heat syncope should:
·         Sit or lie down in a cool place when they begin to feel symptoms.
·         Slowly drink water, clear juice, or a sports beverage.
Heat Cramps
Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body's salt and moisture levels. Low salt levels in muscles causes painful cramps. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.
Muscle pain or spasms usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs.
First Aid
Workers with heat cramps should:
·         Stop all activity, and sit in a cool place.
·         Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
·         Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
·         Seek medical attention if any of the following apply:
o    The person has heart problems.
o    The person is on a low-sodium diet.
o    The cramps do not subside within one hour.
Heat Rash
Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. (This can happen when you are trying to keep wet to stay cool. I think it is more likely to happen at WDW than DLR.)
Symptoms of heat rash include:
·         Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters.
·         It is more likely to occur on the neck and upper chest, in the groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases.
First Aid
People experiencing heat rash should:
·         Try to stay in a cool, less humid environment when possible. Make sure affected areas are kept dry while getting wet to cool off.
·         Keep the affected area dry.
·         Dusting powder may be used to increase comfort.
Now I’ve given you the information about Heat Stress and the ideas for surviving heat in the park I want to encourage you to remember this information for anywhere you are when it gets hot! Know the symptoms of Heat Stress and how to avoid and treat it.
If you start to think you are getting overheated find a way to cool off. If you can’t cool your home or location where you are at most cities set up Cooling Centers/Cool Zones for people to cool off during the heat of the day. Some will be at Civic Centers or schools. Other ideas for places to go to cool off include libraries, malls or even movie theaters.

Encourage the elderly and kids to learn the symptoms and treatment of Heat Stress. This could save their lives and maybe even yours if you ignore the effects of the heat some day. Watch out for each other! As I’ve said before the young and elderly often do not “feel” the effects of the heat until it is too late. A young child will play outside in the heat until they drop because they just don’t realize what is happening and don’t want to stop having fun. The elderly may not think to turn on the A/C or move indoors when it is hot. They don’t realize until it is too late that they are over heated.

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