For many of our members, summer time is riding time. School's out, rallies are going on, members are preparing for their next certification test, and the weather goes from fine to hot, hot, hot. As the temperatures and heat indexes rise, we also need to raise our awareness of how heat affects our members and their mounts.
Per Policy 0127, USPC requires all volunteers in a leadership position the "It's Hot Outside" training module, designed by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once an individual has going through the module, they will take the quick Pony Club quiz on heat illness so that their record will show that they have completed the training.
In addition, it is recommended that instructors, members who are instructing, parents, and any other volunteers should go through the It's Hot Outside Training. The more we know, the quicker we can spot the warning signs of anyone at a Pony Club function who is have trouble with the heat, and the better we can treat that person.
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an extreme heat hazard:
Heat Wave - Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.
Heat Index - A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees. See below for a heat index chart.
Excessive Heat Watch - Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
Excessive Heat Warning - Heat Index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
Heat Advisory - Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help indentify symptoms of a heat illness:
Heat Cramps - Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Heat Exhaustion - Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat Stroke - A life-threatening condition. 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.
Sun Stroke - Another term for heat stroke.
Heat Index Chart
The Heat Index is a function of temperature and relative humidity. The combination of the two results in an apparent temperature which gives an idea of what it would feel like under normal-to-low humidity conditions.
The heat index also applies to shady, light wind conditions, so it feels even hotter than the heat index if a person is in direct sun. In the midst of a hot, dry, wind a person would also feel hotter than the heat index value due to the wind effects.
Excessive and dangerous heat indices occur mostly during the summer months with the abundance of moisture and increased heat.
Apparent Temperature Readings
Caution -- 85 to 94°F -- physical activity may cause fatigue
Extreme Caution -- 95 to 105°F -- possible heat cramps and/or heat exhaustion with prolonged exposure
Danger -- Above 105°F -- possible heat stroke with prolonged exposure; heat exhaustion and heat cramps likely