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WHAT IS EXTREME HEAT? Temperatures that hover 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region and last for several weeks are defined as extreme heat. Humid or muggy conditions, which add to the discomfort of high temperatures, occur when a dome of high atmospheric pressure traps hazy, damp air near the ground. Excessively dry and hot conditions can provoke dust storms and low visibility. Droughts occur when a long period passes without substantial rainfall. A heat wave combined with a drought is a very dangerous situation.
Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for information on extreme heat.
Install window air conditioners snugly.
Insulate spaces around air conditioners for a tighter fit.
Use a circulating or box fan to spread the cool air.
Keep heat outside and cool air inside.
Install temporary reflectors, such as aluminum foil covered cardboard, to reflect any heat back outside.
Keep the cool air inside by weather-stripping doors and windowsills.
Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
Protect windows. Hang shades, draperies, awnings, or louvers on windows that receive morning or afternoon sun. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat entering the house by as much as 80 percent.
Conserve electricity. During periods of extreme heat, people tend to use a lot more power for air conditioning which can lead to a power shortage or outage.
Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do not cool, they just blow hot air around.
Eat well-balanced, light meals. Drink plenty of water regularly. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restrictive diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake. Limit intake of alcoholic beverages. Although beer and alcohol beverages appear to satisfy thirst, they actually cause further body dehydration.
Dress in loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored clothing that reflects heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body temperature. Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
Allow your body to get acclimated to hot temperatures for the first 2 or 3 days of a heat wave.
Avoid too much sunshine. Sunburn slows the skin's ability to cool itself. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.
Avoid extreme temperature changes. A cool shower immediately after coming in from hot temperatures can result in hypothermia, particularly for elderly and very young people.
Slow down. Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule strenuous activities. High-risk individuals should stay in cool places.
Get plenty of rest to allow your natural "cooling system" to work.
Take salt tablets only if specified by your physician. Persons on salt-restrictive diets should check with a physician before increasing salt intake.
Vacuum air conditioner filters weekly during periods of high use.
DID YOU KNOW?
In a normal year, approximately 175 Americans die from extreme heat. Young children, elderly people, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to become victims.
Between 1936 and 1975, nearly 20,000 people succumbed to the effects of heat and solar radiation.
Because men sweat more than women, men are more susceptible to heat illness because they become more quickly dehydrated.
Sunburn can significantly slow the skin's ability to release excess heat.
People living in urban areas may be at a greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than people living in rural regions. An increased health problem can occur when stagnant atmospheric conditions trap pollutants in urban areas, thus adding contaminated air to excessively hot temperatures.