We are in the midst of some of the hottest days we’ve faced in a decade and we’ve been issued a heat advisory. What does that mean? Well let’s go over all the variations.
Excessive Heat Watch: Temperatures will meet or exceed local heat warning criteria for 24-72 hours.
Heat Advisory: The heat index* value will meet the local heat warning criteria for 1 to 2 days.
Excessive Heat Warning: The temperature will meet or exceed the local heat warning criteria for over 2 days.
*Heat index is what it feels like outside. This takes into account the outdoor temperature, humidity, wind, etc., to give an accurate representation of how it will affect you.
So before you hear these warnings on the weather station, prepare for when it might be blazing hot outside.
- Come up with a heat safety plan for the locations you spend the most time, like home, school or work
- Make sure your emergency kit is prepared, food, water (lots of water), battery-operated fans, flashlights, etc.
- If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, check for local cooling stations in your city or plan to go to the movies, mall, or other air conditioned location
- Make sure you supply adequate shade and water for your animals
- Take note of your young, sick, overweight, and elderly neighbors because they’ll be the ones most affected by the heat
When the heat wave hits, here’s some tips to keep you and those around you safe.
- STAY HYDRATED. Seriously so important to drink lots of fluids, but avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks
- Eat small meals more frequently throughout the day
- Wear light-weight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothes
- Set your indoor temperature, whether it’s home, office or car, to a few degrees higher than preferred. It’ll be easier on your energy bill, but even more, it’ll prevent you from getting sick. The drastic changes in temperatures from outdoors to indoors is hard on your body
- If working out, make sure to either do it indoors or in the coolest part of the day (morning or evening) and work out with a buddy just in case something goes wrong, you’ll have immediate attention
- If you know someone who spends most their time alone and they’re more susceptible to the heat, make sure to check on them: Family, friends, neighbors
- Also, keep an eye on your pets, make sure they aren’t showing signs of overheating
- Most importantly, never EVER leave kids or animals in vehicles, even with a cracked window, the indoor temperature could be fatal
Now let’s go over some illnesses related to heat.
Heat cramps: Leg or abdomen muscle pains or spasms. It can be an early sign of more serious heat illnesses.
- Get to cooler temperatures immediately, lay down and relax, and drink some electrolytes
Heat exhaustion: Much more serious than heat cramps. Be cautious of this if you’re an athlete, firefighter, construction worker, factory worker, or anyone who does labor intensive work. Also, avoid wearing heavy clothes in humid weather.
- Signs: skin looks cool, pale, flushed, ashen or feels damp, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and exhaustion
- Move to cooler, circulating temperatures. Expose as much skin as possible. Dampen skin with towels or mist. Slowly take in fluids like sports drinks or juice. About half a glass every 15 minutes
- Call 9-1-1 if there’s lack of intake of fluids, change of consciousness or vomiting
Heat Stroke: Happens when the signs of heat exhaustion are ignored and is a life-threatening condition. The body stops functioning because of the extreme temperatures.
- Signs: extremely high body temperatures, red, dry/moist skin, changes in consciousness, rapid breathing and heart rate, confusion, vomiting and seizures
- Call 9-1-1!
- Try to cool down rapidly
- Submerge up to neck in ice bath
- Dampen skin with ice towels, rotating frequently
- Cover in bags of ice
- Apply cooling methods until condition improves
The heat can be dangerous, I hope these tips will help you keep cool and notice the signs of heat becoming too much for your body to handle. We have a few days of some clouds right now, but soon the high temperatures will be back so we have to be prepared.