to mind many memories of vacations, barbecues, swimming, and baseball
games. People spend time outside mowing lawns, gardening, and doing
many other outdoor activites during the summer months. Many hours
of sun and warmth bring people out of their homes to work and play.
It is a very active and fun filled season, but summer can have negative
affects as well, if one is not careful. When it comes to summer heat,
there is such a thing as having too much of a good thing.
can rise beyond comfortable levels for days, and sometimes weeks.
Humidity can be opressive, making it feel hotter than it actually
is. The once glorious summer season soon becomes unbearable, making
every outdoor activity a chore. Shade trees and a summer breeze become
welcome treasures. Many people retreat to the comforts of their air
conditioners and fans. But these may only be temporary should brown
outs occur (loss of electicity due to electicity needs being greater
than what a power company can supply, often times due to many people
using air conditioning units simultaneously on top of regular electricity
useage in the area). The fact remains that the heat cannot be avoided
totally. If one does not take proper precautions during these sweltering
conditions, the result could be serious, even deadly.
year, an average of 175 Americans lose their lives due to their bodies
not being able to compensate for the tolls that excessive heat and
humidity take on their bodies. This does not include the casualties
in which heat excelerated the symptoms of disorders already present.
Because this has become such a serious problem, the National Weather
Service has devised a system to calculate how hot it really feels
when air temperature is combined with humidity. It is called the Heat
Index. Using this system gives weather forecasters a way to
warn people of dangerously high heat levels.
There are various heat related illnesses/injuries that people need
to be aware of so that they may 1) try to prevent them from occuring,
2) watch for signs and symptoms when individuals are exposed to extreme
heat levels, and 3) know how to treat these illnesses/injuries should
they occur. These illnesses/injuries include sun burn, heat cramps,
heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
(Please click to view Heat Disorder Symptoms & Treatment)
To function properly,
the body must maintain a core temperture of 98.6 degrees. The body's
natural response to a deviation from this is perspiration to cool
the body, should it get to warm, and shivering, should it get too
cold. When it is very hot and humid, the body's natural defense is
to sweat profusely (The release of water by the body onto its surface,
which cools the body as it evaporates.). When this happens, an individual
loses not only water, but also sodium. If this goes on for long enough
without replenishing the fluids and electrolytes lost during perspiration,
the body will become dehydrated, and the individual may start having
symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Should a
person also suffer from a sunburn, these reactions could manifest
more quickly, due to the skin's decreased ability to regulate the