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Dealing with Extreme Heat

Posted on July 12, 2012
by Wendy Stackhouse

 

Last week we were hearing about how hot it was pretty much everywhere but here in our Southern California home.  It was only 77° on the 4th of July where we were–amazing! But of course, this week is a different story.  Even beautiful SoCal is hot and this kind of heat can be dangerous for some.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) here in the United States has a lot of great information about extreme heat and your health.  Here are some highlights:

What is Extreme Heat?

Extreme heat is temperatures and/or humidity substantially higher than usual for a given region.  Ever wonder why they give you that “it feels like” temperature on the evening news?  Because the humidity can make the temperature worse.

Who is in the most danger from Extreme Heat?

The elderly, infants and children and people with chronic ailments are most at risk, but “obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use” can all affect a person’s risk from Extreme Heat.

I’m young and healthy.  Am I at risk?

Yes, even young, healthy people are at risk IF they attempt strenuous physical activity during periods of Extreme Heat.  Especially in high humidity, the sweat on your body cannot evaporate properly and you could overheat very quickly.

glass of water

What can I do to prevent health problems from Extreme Heat?

The CDC has some simple recommendations:

  • Drink cool (non-alcoholic) beverages more often than you normally would.  A good rule of thumb is 8 ounces of fluid per hour, minimum.
  • Pay attention to the news, especially for warnings and air quality information.
  • Air conditioning is your best friend.  If you don’t have air conditioning at home, go to a mall or restaurant and stay indoors.
  • Make sure that your home air conditioning system is clean and unimpeded and the filters are replaced at the beginning of the summer.  Your ventilation system is essential to healthy living in Extreme Heat conditions, but if it is not working well, it could hurt more than help and also cause even higher energy costs.

Between 1979 and 2003 Extreme Heat caused over 8000 deaths in the US–more than from “hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. And our climate certainly has not cooled since then. In fact, we just had the hottest 12 months in recorded history!  However, deaths from Extreme Heat are also extremely preventable, if you stay hydrated and turn on the air!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group.  We welcome your comments!  For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!  For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental  on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

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