Summer Safety Week: Heat

Heat can be dangerous to anyone
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 6:46 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It may not come across as dangerous, but heat continues to be one of the top weather-related killers in the U.S. It claims the lives of hundreds year after year.

It’s not just those who are susceptible to heat; anyone can suffer with heat-related illness if the temperatures are hot enough. That includes those are physically fit and active.

There are multiple heat safety tips you can follow to stay safe in the summer heat.
There are multiple heat safety tips you can follow to stay safe in the summer heat.(WSFA 12 News)

The elderly, children, pregnant women, those with medical conditions, and those without proper means of staying cool are the most at risk on a day-to-day basis. So it’s important to always check on those people when big heat is impacting Central Alabama.

What do we mean by the words “big heat”?

For Alabama it’s generally temperatures in the 90s and/or heat index values above 100 degrees. However, you can suffer from heat-related illness even with temperatures that aren’t above 90 degrees. That’s especially true if you are engaging in strenuous outdoor activities.

Here's what the heat index value has to be in order for a Heat Advisory to be issued.
Here's what the heat index value has to be in order for a Heat Advisory to be issued.(WSFA 12 News)

If you’re wanting to know when the absolute most dangerous heat will be, simply look for heat-related alerts. If a Heat Advisory or Excessive Heat Watch/Warning is issued then you know it will be dangerously hot. Those aren’t issued all that often, but we do see at least some each summer.

When one of those alerts is issued that means heat index values are likely to eclipse 105 degrees. This kind of heat can lead to heat-related illness in a short period of time regardless of what you’re doing.

Those illnesses range from mildly problematic to a medical emergency. Some of the names you may hear are sunstroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. The latter is always an emergency that requires a trip to the hospital or a call to 9-1-1.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur when it's hot enough.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur when it's hot enough.(WSFA 12 News)

With all of this in mind it’s vital to engage in heat safety practices, especially when we see those triple digit heat index values. Staying hydrated, wearing loose-fitting and light-colored clothing, avoiding strenuous outdoor activities, seeking shelter in the shade and areas with A/C, and staying aware of how your body feels are just some of the things you can do to stay safe when it’s hot.

Be sure to practice heat safety and have a safe and enjoyable summer season fellow Alabamians!

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