How to Stay Safe in Excessive Heat
Okay, so this may not surprise you, but it’s been hot outside lately. Like, really, really hot. While it may seem like the perfect weather for a trip to the pool, it’s important to consider the safety concerns that come with heat.
Excessive Heat Alerts and What They Mean
The National Weather Service issues four different heat alerts, each with a different meaning.
The first, an Excessive Heat Outlook, is issued when there is potential for an excessive heat event to occur within the next 3-7 days. This gives considerable lead-time to prepare for the event.
The next alert is a Heat Advisory, which is issued within 12 hours of extremely dangerous heat conditions. When a heat Advisory is issued, this means that the maximum heat index is forecast to be 100 degrees or higher for at least two days and the air temperature at night remains at 75 degrees or above, but these limitations can vary by location.
Excessive Heat Watches are issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event occurring within the next 24-72 hours. This alert signifies an increased risk of a heat event with uncertain timing.
The most severe of heat alerts is the Excessive Heat Warning. Issued within 12 hours of conditions in which the maximum heat index is expected to be 105 degrees or higher for at least two days and the nighttime air temperature does not drop below 75 degrees, though these restrictions can vary by location.
In these extreme conditions, it’s important to take safety precautions. Here are a few helpful tips to staying safe and healthy in the heat this summer.
Heat Safety Tips
Check the weather for Excessive Heat Alerts.
Children, seniors, and those with health problems are more susceptible to heat, and should stay in the coolest place available.
Stay hydrated. Hydration is key in reducing heat-related illness. Drinking lots of fluids that are non-alcoholic and decaffeinated is crucial. If you are on a fluid restrictive diet, contact your doctor before increasing your intake of fluids.
If possible, reschedule any outdoor labor for a cooler time of day. If you cannot reschedule, reduce activity and be sure to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks in cool places.
Dress appropriately. Loose-fitting and lightweight clothing in light colors is ideal, and will reflect heat and sunlight rather than absorbing it.
Stay in air-conditioned areas as much as possible.
Minimize direct exposure to sun. If you must be in direct sunlight for any length of time, wear sunscreen. Sunburns reduce your body’s ability to dissipate heat and can lead to more serious conditions.
Take cool baths or showers to recuperate from the heat.
When getting in the car, touch a child’s safety belt to ensure that it is not too hot to put on.
Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars. They could accidentally trap themselves in a hot vehicle.
Always lock cars and trunks so that children cannot get trapped inside.
Do not ever leave a child or pet unattended in a hot car. Even if temperatures do not seem extreme, cars heat up very quickly, sometimes exceeding 200 degrees. Rolling down windows does not significantly cool the temperature inside of a car.
For more heat safety tips, click here.