If you're going to the Outside Lands Festival, or doing any strenuous work outdoors this weekend, you'll need to prepare a few essentials first to keep your cool while the Bay Area heats up.
Temperatures around Larkspur and Corte Madera are expected to climb into the 80s by this weekend. Triple-digit temperatures have been forecast for other parts of Northern California, so we can count ourselves fortunate.
Still, doctors suggest trying to keep cool by wearing a hat and sunblock, drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding overexertion during the hottest part of the day. When playing sports on a hot day, try to drink water every 10 minutes or so to stay hydrated.
And remember, don't leave pets or children unattended in the car. The Marin Humane Society says a car's interior can reach 160 degrees in a few minutes, even on mildly warm days.
Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat. Historically, from 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States. During this period, more people in this country died from extreme heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. In 2001, 300 deaths were caused by excessive heat exposure.
People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn't enough. In such cases, a person's body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.
Several factors affect the body's ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions related to risk include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.
Because heat-related deaths are preventable, people need to be aware of who is at greatest risk and what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death. The elderly, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.
What Is Extreme Heat?
Conditions of extreme heat are defined as summertime temperatures that are substantially hotter and/or more humid than average for location at that time of year. Humid or muggy conditions, which add to the discomfort of high temperatures, occur when a "dome" of high atmospheric pressure traps hazy, damp air near the ground. Extremely dry and hot conditions can provoke dust storms and low visibility. Droughts occur when a long period passes without substantial rainfall. A heat wave combined with a drought is a very dangerous situation.
During Hot Weather
To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and use common sense. The following tips are important:
Drink Plenty of Fluids
During hot weather you will need to increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour.
Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
Don't drink liquids that contain alcohol, or large amounts of sugar — these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
- Elderly people (65 years and older), infants and children and people with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat stress.
- Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. During conditions of extreme heat, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, public libraries, or public health sponsored heat-relief shelters in your area.
- Get informed. Listen to local news and weather channels or contact your local public health department during extreme heat conditions for health and safety updates
- Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages and increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level.
This information provided by NCEH's Health Studies Branch.