Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.
Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat. Pets are also susceptible to extreme temperatures. Be aware of heat distress in your pets as well as the elderly, and young children.
Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the "urban heat island effect." During the hottest portions of the day, the asphalt can reach temperatures in excess of 140° Fahrenheit.
What can you do?
- Stay tuned to local weather forecasts and plan your outdoor activities around the hottest portions of the day;
- Check on your family and neighbors during extreme temperatures, particularly the elderly;
- Those with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory illnesses may be at higher risk and should stay indoors during the hottest portions of the day when air quality can be lowest;
- Be sure to have water available for yourselves, your family members, and your pets at all times when you are outdoors;
- If you must be outside during the hottest portions of the day, be sure that you, your family, and pets have access to shade;
- Provide adequate ground cover (grass), shade, and water for your pets if you must leave them outside during the hottest hours of the day;
- Walk your dogs in the early morning or late evening when air and asphalt temperatures are decreased because asphalt can exceed 140° Fahrenheit during the hottest portions of the day.