Summer Heat Safety

Heat is one of the biggest weather-related threats during the summer months. Click the links below to find out information about heat as well as how to stay safe when temperatures reach dangerous levels.

Remember, there's nothing "cooler" this summer than knowing how to stay safe from the heat!

 

Heat Index

Heat-Related Illness

Heat & Kids

Watch/Warning/What??   

Heat & Pets

Heat & Adults

   

Questions?

   

 

 Heat Index

The Heat Index is a measure of how "hot" it really feels outside. It is determined by factoring the relative humidity into the actual air temperature. Why relative humidity? The human body cools itself off by sweating (or really, sweat evaporating). How quickly sweat evaporates is related to the relative humidity of air. This means that the higher the relative humidity, the longer it takes for a person to cool themselves off... which can place them at risk for heat-related illnesses or even death.

What about West Texas and Southeast New Mexico? Aren't we safe from heat-related illnesses because it's a "dry heat" here?

Nope. While high relative humidities can certainly increase the adverse effects of heat on the human body, we're still at risk for heat-related illnesses because our bodies can overheat regardless of whether or not the Heat Index is high.

Curious about finding what the Heat Index is on a given day? Use the table below (or click to enlarge) to determine the Heat Index.

 

 

What Does It Mean? Understanding Heat Advisories, Watches, & Warnings

Did you know that the National Weather Service in Midland issues the following to alert the public about dangerous temperatures? It's important to keep in mind that heat exhaustion & other heat-related illnesses can still occur from heat even when a statement hasn't been issued by the National Weather Service. The very young and the elderly are especially prone to heat-related illnesses and bear close watching with heat.

Heat Advisory Excessive Heat Watch Excessive Heat Warning

Heat Index values forecast to meet or exceed the following criteria for at least 2 days:

  • Maximum daytime high greater than or equal to 105 F
  • Minimum nighttime lows greater than or equal to 75 F
Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed warning criteria in the next 12 to 48 hours

Heat Index values forecast to meet or exceed warning criteria for at least 2 days:

  • Maximum daytime high greater than or equal to 110 F
  • Minimum nighttime lows greater than or equal to 75 F

 

 

Heat-Related Illness: How to Recognize & What to Do

The information below is courtesy the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Remember, this information is only a guide and does not replace the opinion of a medical professional.

Illness

What Is It?

Symptoms

First Aid

Heat Stroke

The body becomes unable to regulate its core temperature.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency that may result in death.

  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Excessive sweating or red, hot, dry skin
  • Very high body temperature

  ***Call 911***

While waiting for help:

  • Place person in shady, cool area
  • Loosen clothing, remove outer clothing
  • Provide fluids (perferably water) as soon as possible
  • Fan air on person; place cold packs in armpits
  • Stay with person until help arrives

Heat Exhaustion

The body's response to loss of water and salt from heavy sweating.
  • Cool, moist skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Light headedness
  • Weakness
  • Thirst
  • Irritability
  • Fast heart beat
  • Have person sit or lie down in a cool, shady area
  • Give person plenty of water or other cool beverages to drink
  • Cool person with cold compresses/ice pack
  • Take to clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation or treatment if signs or symptoms worsen or do not improve within 60 minutes.

Heat Cramps

Low salt levels in muscles, from loss of body salts and fluid during sweating, cause painful cramps.
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain
  • Usually in abdomen, arms, or legs
 
  • Have person rest in shady, cool area
  • Person should drink water or other cool beverages
  • Wait a few hours before returning to strenuous work
  • Have person seek medical attention if cramps don't go away

Heat Rash

Also known as prickly heat, this is a skin irritation caused by sweat that does not evaporate from skin.  
  • Clusters of red bumps on skin
  • Often appears on neck, upper chest, folds of skin
 
  • Try to work/do activities in a cooler, less humid environment when possible
  • Keep the affected area dry

 

 

Heat & Pets

Spending time playing with your pet outside may be a normal part of your summer routine, but heat can also have adverse effects on pets. The following pet precautions, provided by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), will help keep your pet safe during summer vacation.

  • Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle.
  • Pets can get dehydrated quickly; give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it's hot outside.
  • Keep pets indoors when it's extremely hot.
  • Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting, increased heart/respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness or even collapse. Contact your veterinarian if your pet displays these symptms.
  • When the temperature is very high, don't let your pet linger on hot asphalt. It can cause your pet to overheat and may burn the pads of their feet.

 

 

Heat & Kids: Beat the Heat... Check the Backseat!

With kids out of school and summer activities underway, adults need to be especially careful about making sure children are not left in vehicles. Temperatures inside vehicles can rise very quickly (think 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes) and a child's body temperature warms at a rate three to five times faster than an adults. This means that kids left in cars can be a deadly combination.

Use the following safety tips to keep your loved ones safe from the heat:

 

  •  Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.  Not even for a minute!
  •  If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately!
  •  If a child is missing, always check the pool first, and then the car, including the trunk.
  •  Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading.  Don't overlook sleeping babies.
  •  Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.
  •  Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.
  •  Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat.  When the child is put in the seat, place the animal in the front with the driver.
  •  Or, place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
  •  Make "look before you leave" a routine whenever you get out of the car.
  •  Ensure your child's school and/or child care provider will call you if your child does not show up for school

     

     

Heat & Adults

Adults need to be concerned about heat-related health impacts as much as children. The following safety tips, courtesy the of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provide important prevention information for you and your family.

  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
    • Infants and young children
    • People aged 65 or older
    • People who have a mental illness
    • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
  • Visit older adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.

 

Questions?

If you have any questions about the information contained on this page or would like to schedule a heat safety presentation for your organization, please contact Mark Strobin, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Midland.

Additional heat safety information is available from the following pages:


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