September 2, 2021 by HCDE-Texas
The start of September sounds like a welcome relief from the sweltering summer, but it is important to stay prepared for extreme heat. The characteristically high temperatures of August show no sign of retreat yet. Certified meteorologist and Space City Weather Editor Eric Berger says, “Although September is here, it definitely will feel like summer.” Here is what you need to know to beat the heat.
Extreme heat and why it is dangerous
Extreme heat is related to the heat index, which factors relative humidity with actual air temperature to measure how hot it feels. Many sources define extreme heat as an extended period where temperatures hover over 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature in a region. In Houston, the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a heat advisory when the heat index reaches 108 degrees Fahrenheit for two consecutive days.
Extreme heat forces the body to work harder to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to heatstroke and even death.
How to recognize heat illness
In extreme heat, people are at risk for heat cramps and heat exhaustion. These conditions are identifiable by muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, legs or arms, heavy sweating, weakness, nausea, or vomiting. If not treated by cooling down the body, these conditions can lead to heatstroke.
Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness include:
- No sweating
- Dry, hot, and red skin
- Pinpoint pupils
- Dizziness, headache, confusion, or unconsciousness
- Rapid, strong pulse
In this situation, call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital immediately and cool down with whatever methods available until help arrives.
Who is most at risk
Children, athletes, seniors, and outdoor workers are at higher risk in extreme heat, which also affects more males than females.
How to practice extreme heat safety
There are many ways to keep yourself and others safe from the heat, but the primary methods are:
- Stay hydrated with water and avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, or sugary beverages
- Remain indoors or in otherwise cool, air-conditioned areas
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity
- Never leave kids or pets unattended in hot cars
For more information and tips to stay cool, visit ReadyHarris.org.