Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Excessive heat warning: Knowing the effects and how to stay safe

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The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning July 12 for multiple counties in Texas including Hood.

The temperatures that fall under an excessive heat warning are a range from 95 degrees to 109 with a heat index of 105 degrees to 114.

The average high temperature for Hood County in July is about 97 degrees and a low of 74 degrees.

“This extreme heat we have been feeling is due to the Gulf of Mexico has been extremely warm which causes the air to be more humid. The fact that we’ve had good soil moisture and rain for some made the heat index brutal,” Evan Andrews FOX4 Meteorologist said. “We’ve had a heat index over 115 many times. I can never remember a summer like that… even the hot ones,” Andrews said.

With such dangerous temperatures, it is important to know the signs of heat related illnesses such as heat stress, heat rash, heat exhaustion or in more severe cases, heat stroke, and who can be affected.

Heat stress is a milder related heat illness that occurs when the body’s temperature regulating system is overwhelmed or overworked. This can be a result of working in extreme heat mixed with improper hydration. Outdoor workers, those who are 65 years or older, pregnant women, those overweight, people with heart disease, or who have high blood pressure are more at risk.

Warning signs of heat stress include fatigue, excessive sweating, thirst, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, and nausea. Progression can lead to confusion, fainting, rapid heartbeat and loss of consciousness. Heat stress can also turn into heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rashes, as well as heat stroke.

Heat rash is when the skin becomes irritated due to excessive sweating due to high temperatures and humidity. Symptoms include red clusters of pimples or small blisters that usually appear on the neck, upper chest, groin, under breasts, and in elbow creases.

Heat exhaustion is a higher level of heat related illness that can occur after several days in high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. According to the CDC those who are more at risk of having heat exhaustion include elderly people, those with high blood pressure, and anyone who works outside in a hot environment.

The signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and fainting.

If left untreated, it can progress to heat stroke. If symptoms worsen or last longer than an hour it is important to seek medical attention.

Heat stroke is a form of a serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body is no longer able to control its temperature. Your body temperature will rise quickly, and your body will fail to produce sweat making you unable to cool down. It can cause body temperatures to rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can result in permanent disability or death if not treated.

Heat stroke warning signs can vary from person to person but can include a body temperature above 103, red hot and dry skin with no sweating, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness.

Other conditions that can impact your body’s ability to regulate its temperature include dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, prescription drug use and alcohol use.

To prevent heat related illnesses, it is important to do a few things. Stay cool, hydrated and informed.

According to the CDC, it is important to wear appropriate clothing such as something lightweight and loose-fitting. Carefully schedule outdoor activities by going outside when it’s coolest such as the morning and evening hours. Pace yourself and take breaks often in the shade. Wear sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher and apply 30 minutes before going and continue to reapply.

Stay hydrated by drinking more fluids even if you aren’t more active than usual. Do not wait until you feel thirsty to drink. It also helps to stay away from sugary and alcoholic drinks because such can cause you to lose more body fluid.

Stay informed by checking the temperature for the week and be on the lookout for any warnings posted. Knowing the signs of a heat related illness can prevent you or a loved one from falling to the dangers of the heat.