The Heat Is On: Stay Cool and Safe
As the days warm up, don’t underestimate how deadly the heat can be: The National Weather Service (NWS) calls it “one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States.”
You can prevent heat-related illness and fatalities. Understanding and limiting the risks will go a long way toward keeping you and your family safe all summer.
When summer is at its hottest, a day that only hits 81 degrees can feel mild. But even then, the inside of a parked car can reach nearly 100 degrees in just 10 minutes. Kids can get burned by the car’s hot interior, but it can be fatal if they’re left in the car unattended. “Each year dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia,” the NWS says.
Hyperthermia occurs when your body can’t handle the heat it’s absorbing and your temperature rises. Even normal outdoor activities can be dangerous and can lead to heat-related illness.
In its mildest form, hyperthermia can start with heat cramps but, according to the Mayo Clinic, “If you don’t cool down, you may progress to symptoms of heat exhaustion, such as heavy sweating, nausea, lightheadedness and feeling faint.”
If your body temperature continues to rise, heatstroke occurs. Heatstroke victims may experience seizures, be disoriented or act strangely, and they need immediate medical treatment. Without treatment, heatstroke can be fatal. It can take only a matter of hours for the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles to be severely damaged.
Children, Certain Adults at Higher Risk
Children’s bodies heat up more quickly than those of adults, so they’re at greater risk. The danger is also higher for the elderly, those who are obese and people taking certain medications. Overexertion, dehydration and alcohol consumption can put even healthy adults at greater risk.
Sunburn affects your body’s ability to regulate heat and also makes you more susceptible to heat illness. A warmer climate than you’re used to can also play a role.
You can get more information on heatstroke risk factors from the Mayo Clinic website.