Right on schedule, a blast of summertime heat is blanketing much of the United States, with high temperatures and humidity levels at full-blast, prompting the National Weather Service to issue Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories.
A Heat Advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. The National Weather Service encourages people in these areas to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. They also advise to take extra precautions if people work or spend time outside. When possible, people should reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening hours when humidity levels and temperatures may be somewhat lower.
The National Weather Service wants people to know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.
To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments.
Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency; people should call 911 if they or someone they know is suffering from heat stroke.
Excessive Heat Warnings are issued when conditions become even more dire. The National Weather Service will issue an Excessive Heat Warning within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Warning is that when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 105° or higher for at least 2 days and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75°, the warning is issued. However, these criteria vary across the country, especially for areas not used to extreme heat conditions. “If you don’t take precautions immediately when conditions are extreme, you may become seriously ill or even die,” the National Weather Service warns.