WATCH: How to Beat the Dangerous Sweltering Summer Heat
Of all the weather dangers we can experience in the United States, the National Weather Service lists heat as the number one weather-related killer over the past decade.
Summer heat brings with it a whole list of threats. One of the most dangerous is hyperthermia, the condition caused when a body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Every year, dozens of children and a large number of pets die after being left in parked cars, where temperatures can quickly rise to dangerous levels, even on mild days. Many people are under the mistaken belief that rolling down the windows will make it safe and that’s just not true.
When high heat conditions are expected, the National Weather Service will issue Excessive Heat Watches, Warnings or Heat Advisories to alert us to the potential dangers of over-exposure. Warnings are issued for heat conditions posing a threat to life. Dangerous heat conditions aren’t just dependent on outside temperatures either; high humidity combined with the heat creates a bigger threat and for measuring those conditions we use the heat index with a scale ranging from Caution, to Extreme Danger.
It’s important to know the signs of heat related illnesses and how to avoid them. First, be aware that older people, anyone with health problems and children are more susceptible to extreme heat conditions. It’s best to put off strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are three types of heat related illnesses to watch for and symptoms can range from painful muscle cramps to altered mental states and even loss of consciousness!
To be safer in the heat, stay hydrated, by drinking plenty of cool water, even if you’re not thirsty and avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages. Use air conditioning and electric fans when possible or spend time in air-conditioned locations like malls. Spend as little time as possible in direct sunlight, too. Sunburn doesn’t just increase your risk for skin cancer, it reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat, too.
So make sure you protect your skin by wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothes, a hat and using a good sunscreen on exposed skin. Before you head outside for work or play, be ready for what the summer heat can bring!
For WeatherNation, John Van Pelt