As Arizona and Texas experience extreme heat, how to protect yourself

A person uses a jug of water to cool off.

An individual cools off amid searing warmth in Phoenix on July 16. (Brandon Bell/Getty Photos)

Greater than 91 million People throughout the South and Southwest have been topic to warmth alerts from the Nationwide Climate Service on Tuesday, and 79 million of them have been anticipated to expertise harmful warmth — outlined by the company as a warmth index of better than 103 levels Fahrenheit.

(The warmth index combines warmth and humidity. For instance, if the temperature is 98°F, the warmth index will nonetheless be harmful if the relative humidity is larger than 40%.)

Cities with harmful warmth indexes embrace Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., and Houston and Austin, Texas, which have all been sweltering beneath a persistent warmth dome for weeks.

On Tuesday, Phoenix recorded 19 straight days with temperatures in extra of 110°F, breaking its previous record of 18 days, set in 1974. Resulting from local weather change and El Niño, a number of days this month have been the world’s hottest on document.

These are the risks of maximum warmth and decrease them.

The well being risk

A heat shimmer is visible around two people crossing a street.

Warmth ripples engulf individuals crossing the road in downtown Phoenix. (Matt York/AP)

Such excessive temperatures, particularly when mixed with excessive humidity — which impedes the evaporation of sweat, the physique’s cooling mechanism — may cause heat-related diseases, similar to warmth exhaustion and heatstroke, and improve the danger of circumstances similar to coronary heart failure.

Excessive warmth is the deadliest climate hazard in the US, killing a median of 700 individuals per 12 months and inflicting greater than 67,000 annual emergency room visits, in accordance with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

“This is the worst summer in recent memory,” Frank LoVecchio, an emergency medicine physician at a hospital in Phoenix, told NBC News, adding that his hospital is overcrowded because 20% of its current patients are there for heat-related illness.

Such numbers are likely an undercount, the CDC says, because heat-related deaths are often misclassified.

Who is most vulnerable

Homeless Phoenix resident Michael Soes sits in his tent.

Homeless Phoenix resident Michael Soes sits in his tent after missing the bus to a cooling center on July 14. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Because heat strains the heart and respiratory system, people with respiratory or cardiovascular conditions are at elevated risk from heat, as are people whose bodies are less adept at regulating their temperature, such as babies, pregnant women and the elderly.

Lower-income urban areas, which have more pavement, fewer trees and less grass, can be up to 20 degrees hotter than nearby suburbs, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lower-income people, who are more likely to lack home air conditioning, are more likely to suffer from heat-related illness.

People who work outdoors are more exposed to the heat, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that workers in extreme heat are more likely to have dangerous accidents, like falling off a roof or mishandling machinery. Texas’s Republican-led Legislature recently overturned workplace heat safety requirements in Dallas and Austin, leaving workers without legal guarantees of water breaks.

How to prevent health problems

People in a cooling center.

People in one of the Phoenix area’s many cooling centers. (Megan Mendoza/USA Today Network via Reuters)

The NWS and other weather and public health authorities recommend the following key strategies to beat the heat:

  • Drink plenty of water, whether you feel thirsty or not. Avoid alcohol, which increases dehydration.

  • Avoid strenuous activity. If you have to exercise or work outdoors, try to do it very early or late, when temperatures are lower.

  • Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn, which contributes to dehydration and makes it harder for your body to cool off.

  • Stay in air-conditioned places. “If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library,” the CDC advises. In case you can’t entry air con, a cool bathe or bathtub will help.

Know your threat

A resident fills a five-gallon jug of water at a vending machine.

A resident fills a jug of water at a merchandising machine in Austin, Texas. (Sergio Flores/Bloomberg through Getty Photos)

You possibly can verify the warmth index on, a web site launched by the Biden administration final 12 months as a part of its efforts to fight the rising risk of maximum warmth.

Dehydration is without doubt one of the main dangers of maximum warmth. In case you don’t drink sufficient liquid to chill your physique by sweat, your physique temperature might rise and trigger heatstroke, a probably lethal situation during which your physique will get so scorching it may well harm your mind, coronary heart and kidneys.

Hold an eye fixed out for the signs of warmth exhaustion, which comes on earlier than and might flip into heatstroke if left untreated. Signs embrace headache, nausea, dizziness and weak point.

In case you’re sweating closely and your physique temperature feels scorching, or when you develop signs of heatstroke similar to vomiting, flushed pores and skin, fast respiratory or coronary heart racing, deal with it instantly.

What to do when you have signs

For warmth exhaustion, the Mayo Clinic advises you to lie down together with your legs elevated above your coronary heart, and drink water or sports activities drinks. If doable, take a cool bathe, get right into a physique of water or apply towels soaked in chilly water to your physique.

If signs do not enhance inside an hour, or when you have heatstroke, take a chilly bathtub or apply ice packs to shortly decrease your physique temperature and search emergency medical therapy.

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