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Summer heat can be a killer, increasing emergency room visits

Harold Mandel's picture
The hot sun

Researchers have found an association between a rising heat index and emergency room visits.


Summer days are not all filled with just fun in the sunshine. There are serious health risks associated with being exposed to the extreme heat which is sometimes seen during the summer.

The potential dangers of being exposed to extremes of heat during the summer can be very serious. As a matter of fact, overexposure to extreme summer heat can kill you. You should therefore always take health precautions during days when it is extremely hot. Stay inside an air conditioned place as much as possible, drink plenty of water, and limit your activity and dress in light colored clothing when you have to be outside.

People are vulnerable to serious health effects even when the heat index is less than 100

Brown University reports that in New England emergency room visits and deaths rise as the heat index increases. It has been observed that people in New England are vulnerable to serious health effects even when the heat index is less than 100. This finding has lead to changes in the threshold for heat warnings by the National Weather Service.

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The researchers say that deaths and visits to the emergency room begin to rise significantly well before the heat index hits 100 in the New England region. The old National Weather Service threshold of 100 to 104 degrees Farenheit for two or more consecutive hours has been lowered to 95 to 99 degrees Farenheit occurring for two or more consecutive days, or a heat index 100 to 104 degrees Farenheit for any duration. The heat index is an expression of what the heat actually feels like measured from a combination of temperature and humidity.

Hopefully people will than be more motivated to protect themselves from the heat

Gregory Wellenius, who is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health, says he hopes that this study and the associated policy change by the National Weather Service will help people to better understand the health risks of being exposed to heat. Hopefully people will than be more motivated to protect themselves and others from the heat.

This study has been published in the journal Environmental Research. Heat associated morbidity and mortality is recognized as a serious public health concern. Studies have suggested the presence of adverse health impacts in association with a heat index below standard guidelines which have been used to issue heat advisories. It has been hypothesized that decreasing this threshold may lead to substantially lower heat associated morbidity and mortality.

You should monitor the weather conditions carefully during the summer months and be prepared to be very careful about your health on hot days. Take the time to cool off on hot summer days. Your life could depend on being careful about overexposure to the extreme temperatures.

If this story was useful to you, please SHARE with friends and family to warn them about the dangers of staying too much under the sun this summer and avoiding emergency room visits.