More than 91 million Americans in the South and Southwest were subject to heat warnings From the Finnish Meteorological Institute on Tuesday, and there were 79 million is expected to experience dangerous heat — defined by the agency as a heat index greater than 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
(The heat index combines heat and humidity. For example, if the temperature is 98°F, the heat index is still dangerous if the relative humidity is over 40%.)
On Tuesday, Phoenix recorded 19 consecutive days with temperatures above 110°F, breaking his previous record 18 days, for 1974. Due to climate change and El Niño, there have been several days this month the world’s hottest record.
These are the dangers of extreme heat and how to minimize them.
Such high temperatures, especially when combined with high humidity – what prevents sweat from evaporatingthe body’s cooling mechanism – can cause heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and increase the risk of diseases such as heart failure.
Extreme heat is the deadliest weather hazard in the US, kills an average of 700 people a year and causes more than 67,000 annual emergency room visits, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is the worst summer in recent memory,” Frank LoVecchio, an emergency room physician at Phoenix Hospital, told NBC Newsadding that his hospital is overcrowded because 20 percent of its current patients suffer from the heat.
Such figures are probably underestimatedThe CDC says that’s because heat-related deaths are often misclassified.
Who is most vulnerable
Because heat puts a strain on the heart and respiratory system, people with respiratory or cardiovascular diseases are n increased risk from heat, as well as people whose bodies are not so adept at regulating their temperature, as babies, pregnant women and the elderly.
Lower-income urban areas with more sidewalks, fewer trees, and less grass may be up to 20 degrees warmer than nearby suburbs, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Low-income people, who are more likely to have a lack of home air conditioning, are more likely to suffer from heat illness.
People who work outside are exposed to more heat, and according to the Finnish Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workers are in extreme heat more likely to have dangerous accidents, such as falling from the roof or mishandling machinery. Texas’ Republican-led legislature recently repealed workplace thermal safety requirements in Dallas and Austin, leaving workers without legal protections against water outages.
How to prevent health problems
NWS and other weather and public health agencies recommend the following key strategies to beat the heat:
Drink lots of water, whether you’re thirsty or not. Avoid alcohol, which increases dehydration.
Avoid strenuous activity. If you must exercise or work outside, try to do it very early or late when the temperatures are lower.
Use sunscreen to prevent sunburn, which contributes to dehydration and makes it harder for your body to cool down.
Stay in air-conditioned places. “If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, go to the mall or the public library.” The CDC advises. If you don’t have access to air conditioning, a cool shower or bath can help.
Know your risk
Dehydration is one of the biggest risks in the heat. If you don’t drink enough fluids to cool your body through sweat, your body temperature can rise and cause heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition in which your body becomes so hot it can damage the brain, heart and kidneys.
Keep an eye out for symptoms heatstroke, which flares up earlier and can turn into heatstroke if left untreated. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness and weakness.
If you are sweating profusely and your body temperature feels hot, or if you develop symptoms of heatstroke, such as vomiting, reddened skin, rapid breathing, or a racing heart, treat it immediately.
What to do if you have symptoms
For heat consumption, The Mayo Clinic advises you to sleep feet up…