By Regan Mertz
In most of the U.S. and Canada, the hottest part of the year occurs in late summer, according to a Forbes article.
The official website of the Department of Homeland Security said extreme heat results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.
“Extreme heat is defined as a long period (2 to 3 days) of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees,” the DHS article said. “In extreme heat, evaporation is slowed, and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. This can lead to death by overworking the human body.”
Tips to help combat extreme heat:
— Find places with air conditioning, like libraries, shopping malls and community centers, that can provide a cool place to take a break from the heat
— If you’re outside, find shade, and wear a hat wide enough to protect your face
— Take frequent breaks or use a buddy system if you must work outdoors
— Postpone outdoor games and activities
— Avoid strenuous, high-energy activities
— Wear lightweight, loose and light-colored clothing; avoid dark colors, because they absorb the sun’s rays
— Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated; avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and carbonation
— Eat small meals, and eat more often
— Avoid extreme temperature changes
— Check yourself, family members and neighbors for signs of heat-related illness; know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick and overweight, because they are more likely to become victims of excessive heat
— Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke
— Never leave people or pets in a closed car on a warm day
— Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met; check on them frequently
— Get trained in First Aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies
— Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes
— Be aware of both the temperature and the heat index; the heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined
— Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household; have a plan for wherever you spend time — home, work and school — and prepare for power outages.
Identifying the signs
In order to help those affected by heat-related illnesses, you must be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of each illness, ready.gov said.
A major sign of heat cramps is muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs. If someone is suspected of having heat cramps, ready.gov suggests to go to a cooler location, remove excess clothing, take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar and get medical help if cramps last more than an hour.
Signs of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting and fainting.
If someone is suspected of having heat exhaustion, get them to an air-conditioned place, have them lie down, loosen or remove their clothing, have them take a cool bath, have them take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar and get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
Signs of heat stroke are extremely high body temperature(above 103 degrees), red, hot and dry skin with no sweat, rapid, strong pulse, dizziness, confusion and unconsciousness.
If someone is suspected of having a heat stroke, call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately, and cool them down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.
According to the American Red Cross, you will likely hear weather forecasters use specific terms when a heat wave is predicted in your community.
“A heat wave is a prolonged period of excess heat, generally10 degrees or more above the average, often combined with excessive humidity,” the American Red Cross said.
There are three main weather-specific terms for heat waves, according to the American Red Cross.
An excessive heat watch is when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local excessive heat warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
A heat advisory is when heat index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs = 100 –105 degrees Fahrenheit).
An excessive heat warning is when heat index values are forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2days (daytime highs = 105 – 110 degrees Fahrenheit).