Summer heat kills more people each year than floods, lightning,
tornadoes, and hurricanes. The only deadlier weather condition is
the cold of winter.
A heat wave is usually defined as three consecutive days with
high temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Though days of heat
can take their toll on our reserves, even a single day of hot
weather can be dangerous if we try to do too much or are confined
to an area that becomes too hot.
Hot weather feels even hotter when it's humid. Moisture in the
air prevents perspiration from evaporating, which is how the body
cools itself. Click image 2 for the Heat Index Chart, which shows
how hot the weather feels to your body as the relative humidity
Effects of the Heat:
- 80 to 90 degrees Fatigue possible with prolonged exposure
and/or physical activity.
- 90 to 105 degrees Sunstroke, heat cramps, and/or heat
exhaustion possible with prolonged exposure and or physical
- 105 to 130 degrees Sunstroke, heat cramps, and/or heat
exhaustion likely, and heatstroke possible with prolonged
exposure and/or physical activity.
- 130 degrees and higher Heat stroke/sunstroke highly likely
with continued exposure.
Beating the Heat
- The most obvious: Stay indoors or out of the sun. Run
air-conditioning, or fans if they cool the air (circulating a hot
breeze can be worse than no breeze). Otherwise enjoy public,
air-conditioned places such as shopping malls.
- Drink more water or juice. Avoid drinks with caffeine,
carbonation. Also avoid alcohol, which dries you out and reduces
your ability to recognize signs of heat stress.
- Eat less protein and other foods that increase your
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
- Avoid strenuous activity including running, bicycling, and
- Check on the elderly, who are most susceptible to heat
- Check on children, who may be too young-- or simply having
too much fun-- to recognize the signs of heat stress.
What to Do
- Heat Cramps
What it is: Painful spasms, typically in the legs or
What to do: Apply firm pressure to cramping muscles, or
gently massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water. If nausea
occurs, discontinue water.
- Heat Exhaustion
What it is: Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale, and
clammy. Pulse thready. Normal temperature possible. Fainting and
What to do: Get victim out of the sun. Lay down and loosen
clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan, or move victim to
air-conditioned room. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs,
discontinue water. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical
- Heat Stroke/Sunstroke
What it is: High body temperature (106 degrees F or
higher). Hot dry skin. Rapid and strong pulse. Possible
What to do: Heat stroke is a SEVERE MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Get
emergency medical assistance or get the victim to a hospital
IMMEDIATELY. Delay can be fatal. Until you can get medical help,
move the victim to a cooler environment. Reduce body temperature
with cold bath or sponging. Use extreme caution. Remove clothing,
use fans and air-conditioners. If temperature rises again, repeat
process. Do NOT give fluids.