No matter what kind of physical shape you may be in, the heat impacts all of us once our natural cooling system within our bodies becomes overwhelmed thanks to the high humidity.
Using Friday, which is currently forecast to be the hottest day of the week as an example, we can see just how quickly our health can decline in the hot and humid conditions. The high temperature is expected to reach somewhere around 100° by the afternoon which will push heat index values to 110°-115°. Working outside in this environment while not remaining hydrated and skipping any rest periods, our body temperature can rise to 100° in as little as 20 minutes. Once this temperature is reached, hyperthermia begins to set in. This is exactly opposite of hypothermia, which we see during extreme cold. Your body will begin to sweat excessively and you'll develop a severe thirst. Your skin will also begin to look flushed or pale in color.
Within 60-90 minutes immediate medical attention will be required as your body temperature soars to 107°. This comes alongside a severe headache, periods of fainting or loss of consciousness. You'll also stop sweating completely. Your internal organs, such as your brain and digestive system components will also begin to swell, possibly causing long-term damage. If you notice anyone who is exhibiting these symptoms, it is best to call 9-1-1 immediately.
When you look at all of the weather related fatalities in the last 30 years, on average heat kills more people than flooding, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes. The reason? Once the humidity becomes a factor, most traditional cooling methods, such as fans, are not effective. The humidity cuts down on the amount of evaporation that is possible from the surface of our skin, and it's that evaporation process that helps cool our body naturally.
During this extended hot period, it's best to always keep in mind our neighbors, friends, and family who may not have air conditioning in their living space. Check on them frequently to make sure they are not becoming victims of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
The same goes for pets. If you are not comfortable, your pet is also not comfortable. Make sure they have plenty of water. Do not leave them inside vehicles, even with the windows down or cracked.
Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke