HAIL TO THE CHIEF: The Silent Weather Killer

James Zahara Weather Blog

When our environment gets too hot and humid like we’re expected to feel this week, it’s harder for our body to get rid of this heat by simply sweating.

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If the air is hotter than the skin (around 98 degrees Fahrenheit) or we are exposed to direct sunlight, the body will absorb more heat.  If it’s extremely humid outside, the heat doesn’t evaporate from our skin very well when we sweat.  When heat gain exceeds the level the body can remove, or when the body cannot compensate for fluids and salt lost through perspiration, the temperature of the body’s inner core begins to rise and heat-related illness may develop.

The severity of heat disorders tend to increase with age.  For example, heat cramps in a 17-year-old may be heat exhaustion for someone who is 40 and heat stroke in a person who is over 60.

Of all the natural hazards in the United States, heat is the number one non-severe weather related killer.  The silent weather killer we like to call it.  In an average year, about 175 Americans succumb to the effects of summer heat.

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Signs of of a heat-related illness on the body are the following:
• Slightly increased temperature (not above 104 degrees)
• Profuse sweating
• Pale skin that’s cool and damp to the touch
• Rapid and shallow breathing
• Headache
• Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
• Dizziness, weakness or fainting
• Muscle cramps

If you’re experiencing any of theses symptoms then I strongly suggest to get out of the sun, drink plenty of water and give your body a chance to cool down.  If it means bathing under the AC with your favorite ice cream dessert on hand then thats a bonus, too.

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