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High heat poses extreme health and safety hazard

sun_01.JPGThe National Weather Service has issued high heat warnings for middle Tennessee and the quad-state region for a period of time for Saturday and extending into the coming week. Daytime highs will range from 96 to 100 degrees, with high humidity and dewpoints, creating heat indexes in the 100-105 degree range, possibly higher in areas where the “heat island effect” may occur. The “heat island” effect most often occurs in urban areas where pavement, concrete and buildings “trap” heat and magnify temperatures by as much as six degrees over the surrounding area.

bottled-water.jpgIn a special weather statement issued late Friday night (Aug. 3), the NWS recommended using caution when undertaking any outdoor activities or travel during the upcoming days, and suggested timing necessary excursions for the coolest parts of the day, namely early morning or late evening. While the excessive heat is dangerous to everyone, the elderly, children, and people with health issues, high blood pressure an/or respiratory conditions are particularly susceptible to excessive heat.

“Checking on your neighbors” is a good idea, particularly if they are elderly or infirm and who may need assistance. Do not leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle for even a few minutes; interior temperatures in a closed vehicle can reach 140 degrees in a matter of minutes. Heat can kill.

Pets are also susceptible to excessive heat; keep plenty of fresh cool water available to your pets, and bring them indoors if at all possible to keep them cool.

Intellicast, an online forecasting service, calls for the 95+ degree temps to continue for the next ten days. Overnight lows will rarely drop below 70 degrees. The high dewpoints and humidity make the air feel much warmer than the actual temperature and without substantial overnight cooling, the heat will continue to settle and feel “suffocating.” Air quality indexes indicate higher pollution levels and low air quality levels, an additional risk for anyone with allergies and respiratory problems.

The NWS reminds people to drink plenty of water, “even if you are not thirsty,” to stay hydrated during this heat wave. Hydration is critical during times of high heat warnings.

Heat exhaustion occurs when people continue to work and play in hot, humid places, losing body fluids through excessive sweating, which causes the body to overheat. Treatment includes seeking shade or colder air-conditioned environments, loosening clothing, drinking plenty of liquids, (no alcohol rubs or consumption of beverages with alcohol or caffeine).

Heat stroke is a life threatening condition that occurs when, through overheating, the brain and body systems stop working and body temperatures can reach 105. Heat exhaustion symptoms can include cool, pale skin, profuse sweating, complaints of nausea, thirst, weakness or headaches, collapsing or feeling faint, and increase in core body temperature or pulse rate. Heat stroke symptoms include disorientation or unconsciousness, flushed hot dry skin that may have previously been soaked with sweat, dizziness, delirium or elevated blood pressure, hyperventilation and core temp of 105. Heat stroke requires medical attention; while waiting for professional assistance, keep the body cool with a bath or cool compresses, give liquids if possible, and seek cooler environment until help arrives. (source: emedicineHealth.com)

The excessive heat also has the potential to strain public utilities as the demand for air conditioning increases.


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