Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. In fact, on average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1,250 people died. In the heat wave of 1995 more than 700 deaths in the Chicago area were attributed to heat. In August 2003, a record heat wave in Europe claimed an estimated 50,000 lives.
North American summers are hot; most summers see heat waves in one or more parts of the United States. East of the Rockies, they tend to combine both high temperature and high humidity, although some of the worst heat waves have been catastrophically dry
The Hazards of Excessive Heat
When the body heats too quickly to cool itself safely, or when you lose too much fluid or salt through dehydration or sweating, your body temperature rises and heat-related illness may develop. Heat disorders share one common feature: the individual has been in the heat too long or exercised too much for his or her age and physical condition.
Studies indicate that, other things being equal, the severity of heat disorders tends to increase with age. Conditions that cause heat cramps in a 17-year-old may result in heat exhaustion in someone 40 years old, and in heat stroke in a person over 60. Sunburn, with its ultraviolet radiation burns, can significantly retard the skin's ability to shed excess heat. Acclimatization has to do with adjusting sweat-salt concentrations, among other things. The idea is to lose enough water to regulate body temperature, with the least possible chemical disturbance--salt depletion.
Child Safety Tips
Make sure your child's safety seat and safety belt buckles aren't too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.
Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.
Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars.
Always lock car doors and trunks--even at home--and keep keys out of children's reach.
Always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination.
Don't leave sleeping infants in the car ever!
Adult Heat Wave Safety Tips
Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
Dress for summer.
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
Put less fuel on your inner fires.
Foods, like meat and other proteins that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids.
Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease, are on fluid restrictive diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids. Do not drink alcoholic beverages and limit caffeinated beverages.
During excessive heat periods, spend more time in air-conditioned places.
Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, go to a library, store or other location with air conditioning for part of the day.
Don't get too much sun.
Sunburn reduces your body's ability to dissipate heat.
Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.All information obtained from the National Weather Servicehttp://www.weather.gov/om/heat/index.shtml