By: Sammy Slappey
Every summer, residents of Georgia do everything they can to stay cool in the sweltering summer heat. Coping mechanisms include blasting the AC, dipping in the pool or escaping to a place with a cooler climate. However, despite our biggest efforts, sometimes the heat catches up to us.
In recent years, extreme heat has caused more deaths than any other weather event, including floods. Extreme heat forces the body to work beyond its limits to maintain a normal temperature. This is especially dangerous for those who are not in top physical condition, such as older adults, young children and those who are overweight or sick.
Extreme heat is characterized by temperatures 10 degrees or more above average, often combined with extreme humidity. You will likely hear these terms used to describe extreme heat:
- Excessive Heat Watch – Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
- Excessive Heat Warning – Heat Index values are forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
- Heat Advisory – Heat Index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).
Preparing for Extreme Heat
- Listen to local weather forecasts to stay aware of temperature changes
- Be aware of both the temperature and heat index
- Discuss heat safety with members of your household and have a plan. Always be prepared for possible power outages
- In case a power outage occurs, be sure to have an emergency disaster kit
- Be aware that people in urban areas may be more likely to experience extreme heat
- Get trained in first aid so you can learn how to handle various heat-related emergencies
- Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.
- Install air conditioners snugly, assure they are properly insulated
Responding During Extreme Heat
- Listen to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for critical updates.
- Never leave children or pets in enclosed vehicles
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Eat small meals and eat more often
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing
- Avoid strenuous exercise outside, including outdoor games and activities
- If you must be outdoors, take frequent breaks
- Check on your animals frequently to ensure they are not suffering from heat.
To learn more about extreme heat and to find information on dealing with heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke click HERE.