Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - July 2016

Almost every conversation since the summer began, starts with comments on the intense heat and how people are dealing with it. In my letter last month, I covered a few precautionary measures to beat the heat in my message about summer preparation. This month, I want to zoom in on just the heat, because it is only going to get hotter before the summer (and fall) are over.

While we try to adapt to higher temperatures in a casual way, it is wise to be mindful that these adverse conditions can result in dehydration very easily, even when you do not realize it is happening. Here are a few things I learned.

High humidity, which often accompanies heat in our state can make the effects of heat even more harmful. Heat related illnesses (even death) can occur with exposure to heat in a single afternoon but  heat stress on the body also has a cumulative effect.

Whenever the heat index is forecast to be at least 105 degrees, a Heat Advisory will be issued.
Whenever the heat index is forecast to be at least 110 degrees for at least 2 days, an Excessive Heat Warning is issued.  It is wise to keep monitoring your local weather for these warnings and plan accordingly.

Meteorologists use the measure of temperature plus humidity to determine how the hot weather "feels" to the body. This indicates the temperature the body "feels". You have heard weather forecasters refer to this as the HEAT INDEX. Here is the surprise. These values are for shady locations only!

Exposure to full sunshine can increase heat Index values by up to 15°F and strong winds that you might consider a relief, actually ADDS heat to the body.

To give you an understanding of the severe effects of heat, a common Heat index of 90 to 105 can produce sunstroke, heat cramps or heat exhaustion . Add even higher risks with physical activity.

On very hot days, always minimize your exposure to the sun, wear sunblock,a cool hat, and most of all, stay continuously hydrated.

Providing body cooling measures for outdoor pets is life saving for them too. A fan in a shady spot on your desk, with several bowls of fresh water in a spot that is out of the sun, and even a rigid plastic wading pool full of water under a tree, are good ways to protect your pets from the ravages of this intense summer heat.

Next time you are preparing to head outside in the heat, remember these tips to remain healthy and safe!

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