Surviving the Swelter
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), heat kills an average of 1,500 people a year in the US—a number higher than any other weather-related event. The Red Cross defines some terms that you may hear regularly during hot weather months:
- 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 forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
- Heat Advisory – Heat Index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).
During times of extreme heat everyone–but especially infants, children and adults over the age of 65–are at an increased risk of suffering from a heat-related illness. Some of the most common include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke (or sunstroke).
So what can you do to stay safe during the hot weather?
- Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol, which causes you to lose fluid more quickly. Always keep water on hand.
- Take it easy on outdoor physical activity—if you can, do outdoor chores in the morning or evening when it’s less hot. Take frequent breaks.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat if possible. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
- Do not leave children, people with disabilities, or pets in a hot car—the interior of a car can reach unsafe temperatures in a matter of minutes.
- Be aware of the health conditions of those around you. Learn the signs of heat-related illness and become familiar with what you can do to help.
For more information about extreme heat safety, visit the following:
National Weather Service/NOAA page on Heat (including heat index numbers and information)