Summer has arrived and with it those hot, steamy days that many of us dread. While I don’t like the bitter cold of winter, I really don’t like the humid, dreadfully hot days of summer either. “Extreme” heat occurs when the temperature is above 90 degrees and is accompanied by a couple of really humid days. Those are the days you need to be careful to not get overheated. Extreme heat is the cause of more weather-related deaths on an annual basis than any other weather hazard.
FEMA offers some tips for beating the heat:
- If it’s a day of extreme heat, don’t try to cool down using just an electric fan. Fans may move the air around and give you the sense that it’s cooler, but it really isn’t. Body temperature is not reduced simply by blowing hot air around.
- Wear light-weight, loose clothing that lets the air move around you.
- Never leave a child, elderly adult, or pet in a car with the windows rolled up on a hot, summer day. The car quickly turns into an oven and can kill within minutes.
- Drink beyond thirst. You’ll need plenty of fluids to remain hydrated on extremely hot days.
- Check on your friends and neighbors on hot days for signs of heat-related illness.
- Keep your home as cool as possible by leaving the curtains or blinds closed.
- Avoid high-energy activities. Chill out and relax!
- If possible, during the hottest part of the day, go somewhere it is air-conditioned like the library or a store.
Watch out for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. With heat cramps, you’ll often have muscle pain or spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs. If you think you’re suffering from heat cramps, go to a cooler location and sit quietly until you feel better. If cramps last more than an hour, seek medical advice.
Signs of heat exhaustion include sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, headache, fainting, nausea, and vomiting. If you are showing signs of heat exhaustion, go to a cooler place and relax. Drink fluids that replace the lost electrolytes, and you may want to try a cool bath. If you don’t see any improvement within an hour, seek medical advice.
If your temperature spikes over 103 degrees, your pulse is rapid, and you’re hot but not sweating, you might have heat stroke. You may also experience dizziness, confusion, or unconsciousness. This is a life-threatening condition. Call 911 or go to the hospital.
Summer is a time to enjoy the weather, but take care if it becomes extremely hot outside. Protect yourself and those you love by paying attention to the signs of over-heating. Stay well, and stay safe.