If you think that lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes pose a bigger risk to your well-being than extreme heat, you would be wrong. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 675 Americans die each year due to complications related to extreme heat, which on average, is higher than the other four disasters combined.
With temperatures expected to reach upwards of 100 degrees throughout the state this week, Georgians are no doubt feeling the heat. Because sweat evaporates very slowly during times when the sun’s heat becomes overwhelming, your body must work harder to cool itself. Now is the time to take the necessary steps to make sure you’re prepared to handle the heat.
Many heat-related deaths and illness are preventable. Here are some tips for staying cool when it gets extremely hot outdoors.
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Limit exposure to sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must go outside during these hours, pace yourself and make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Stay away from sugary drinks, caffeine and alcoholic beverages as they tend to increase dehydration.
- Wear sunglasses and don’t forget to put on sunscreen. Both protect against sunburn, which reduces the ability to release heat from the body and causes a loss in fluids.
- Dress in loose, lightweight and light-colored clothes to reflect the sun as much as possible. Cotton clothes are preferable as they are more breathable. Don’t forget to wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head and face from the sun.
- Ditch the metal accessories that can heat up during hot summer days and makeup which can impede sweating and make your feel hotter.
- Spend time in an air-conditioned place when possible. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spend some time each day in an air-conditioned environment such as public libraries, mall, movie theater or other indoor public spaces.
- Closely monitor a local radio station, TV station or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest information.
Keeping cool when temperatures are extremely hot isn’t just about comfort. Dangerously high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and even heat stroke. It’s always a good rule of thumb to check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone. Remember, understanding what to do in times of extreme heat can save you from stress later, so be informed to ensure you have a relaxing – and hopefully cool – summer.