Take heat seriously

Published 6:10 pm Saturday, July 7, 2012

When it comes to weather-related fatalities, it’s easy to believe that hurricanes, tornadoes or floods would be considered the most deadly in the United States. More often than not, they receive the bulk of coverage in the news.

But as temperatures hover around 100 degrees the past few weeks, it should come as no surprise that heat causes hundreds of fatalities yearly. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, excessive heat claims, on average, more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

As they do with other storm systems, the National Weather Service will issue watches and/or warnings in connection with excessive heat activity. These should be taken seriously.

To learn more about dealing with excessive heat, refer to the guidebook published by the Environmental Protection Agency. It can be found online.

In the meantime, here are some things to do and some things not to do:


  • Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations;
  • Use portable electric fans to vent hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air;
  • Take a cool bath or shower;
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun;
  • Stay hydrated by regularly drinking water or other nonalcoholic fluids;
  • Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads;
  • Wear loose fitting, light-colored clothes;
  • Check on older, sick or frail people who may need help responding to the heat;
  • Know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.


  • Direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90 degrees;
  • Leave children and pets alone in cars for ANY amount of time;
  • Drink alcohol to try to stay cool;
  • Eat heavy, hot or hard-to-digest foods;
  • Wear heavy, dark clothing.

Most importantly, use common sense and keep your cool when it comes to excessive heat.