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Heat – Severe Weather’s Unknown Danger

As we move through the peak of severe weather season, it is important to remember one of the least talked about but most dangerous elements, heat. Floods and lightning can injure or even kill, but heat can be counted on to take lives in all areas of the country during the summer months every year.

We get rid of excess heat through sweating, but with some areas seeing record highs this year, there are circumstances where a good sweat simply isn’t enough to ward off the effects of heat.

Once the air becomes hotter than the skin, at around 98 degrees Farenheit, or in cases where you are exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period, the body is going to naturally absorb more heat. In cases where is is extremely humid, that heat does not evaporate from the skin as it should. Once the heat gain exceeds the level that the body is able to remove, or in situations where the body cannot properly compensate for fluids through perspiration, the body temp begins to rise and heat related problems up to and including heat stroke may become very real.

Heat disorders become increasingly likely as we get older. A 17 year old is far more able to process the effects of heat cramps than someone in their 40s, and may result in heat stroke for someone who is in their 60s.

When it comes to natural weather events, heat is the leading non severe weather killer in the US, claiming an average of 175 lives every year. In some circles it is referred to as the silent weather killer. Signs of heat related physical problems include:

–          Increased temperature (not above 104 degrees)

–          Sweating profusely

–          Pale skin that is cool or clammy to the touch

–          Rapid and/or shallow breathing

–          Headache, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

–          Dizziness, fainting, or weakness

–          Muscle cramps

Anyone with these symptoms is advised to get in out of the sun, drink plenty of fluids, and allow the body a chance to cool down. Air conditioning and ice cream may be some perks to be enjoyed to the full during this period.

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