Heat Advisory: Preventing Heat-Related Illness
The National Weather Service (NOAA) has issued a heat advisory for much of the central part of the United States. The area includes parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected and often combined with high humidity creating a situation in which heat illnesses are possible.
Central Arkansas’ weather forecast for most of the week is very hot and humid with highs around 100 and lows in the upper 70s. Heat index readings will reach 105-110 degrees each afternoon.
The very young and the elderly are especially vulnerable to the heat. People with chronic health issues are also at greater risk and need to take special care to stay healthy in the heat.
Key Precautions for Prevention of Heat-Related Illness
- If possible try to acclimate to the weather. Those who work in the heat are usually more "used" to it. Humidity can make it "seem" warmer than the actual temperature (heat index).
- Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and use a hat or umbrella.
- Don't just carry water or juice with you. Drink it, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate the body.
- Stay indoors as much as possible. Use a fan or air conditioning.
- Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do something physically demanding (work or football/band practice), try to do it during the coolest part of the day (between 4 am and 7 am). If you must do it later in the day, remember fluids. If you are sweating, you are losing fluids and salts. Consider drinking one 8-oz Gatorade for every 1-3 8-oz water.
- Take regular breaks when engaging in physical activity on warm/hot days. Take time out to find a cool place (shade tree, indoors, lake).
- Never leave an infant, child, or dog in a car, even for a few minutes.
- Pets can become overheated too. When you include them in your outdoor activities (walking, picnics, etc) be sure to make sure they have plenty of water and shade.
Symptoms of heat-related illness include muscle and abdominal cramps, heavy (or worse – have stopped) sweating, headache, dizziness, and nausea / vomiting.