A summer approaches, it is time to consider safety precautions for extreme heat in the coming months. Heat affects all people, but especially the young, elderly, sick, and overweight. Urban area residents also have a greater chance of being affected than those who live in rural areas due to the heat island effect.
According to the EPA, " the sun can heat dry, exposed urban surfaces, such as roofs and pavement, to temperatures 50-90F hotter that the air, while shaded or moist surface-often in more rural surrounding-remain close to air temperatures." These surface heat islands are stronger during the day when the sin is shining, while the atmospheric heat islands are more likely after sunset " due to the slow release of heat from urban infrastructure."
Whether you are in an urban or rural area, there are several things you can do to prepare for and prevent extreme heat from affecting you. If possible, stay indoors in air conditioning. Be sure to check on your pets who may be outdoors or bring them inside. Stay hydrated and limit alcohol and caffeine intake.
If you must go outside, ear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, and be sure to apply sunscreen often. Pay attention to signs of heat exhaustion, which are heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, and clammy skin; nausea or vomiting; and fainting, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which is life- threatening. Sings of heat stroke are a high body temperatures (103+), rapid and strong pulse, and possible unconsciousness. If you think someone has a heat stroke, call 911 immediately and move the person somewhere cool. Reduce body temperature with cool, wet cloths or a bath. Do no give a person with heat stroke fluids, and treat the situation as a serious medical emergency (CDC).
If you lice in a humid climate, be aware of the heat index. The heat index factors in the humidity, which can make the temperature fell 15 degrees hotter.
Extreme heat is a serious danger. For more information and preparation and prevention, visit ready.gov or cdc.gov.