WSAV NOW Weather: Heat index & heat safety advice

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SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) — During the hot summer months, we often talk about the heat index temperature or the ”feels like temperature.” But what is this and why is it important?

The heat index is how the temperature feels to your body when the relative humidity is factored in. When there is more moisture in the atmosphere (higher humidity), the hotter the temperature feels to the body because it becomes harder to cool off.

Credit: NOAA/National Weather Service

The natural cooling system the body uses works though perspiration. Heat in the body is released when the body perspires and the moisture evaporates. With high humidity, it is hard for evaporation to occur. That means the heat stays with you longer and depending on how hot conditions are and how humid the air is could be dangerous.

If the body overheats when over exposed to the heat, the first thing that may happen is heat exhaustion. The symptoms include dizziness or fainting, heavy sweating, a rapid weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, and muscle cramps. If any of those symptoms begins to set in, it is important to get to a cooler spot and hydrate.

If heat exhaustion begins to set in and precautions are not taken, the next step is the body going into heat stroke. This condition is much more serious for the body. Heat stroke symptoms include a body temperature greater than 103°F, a throbbing headache, no sweating, red & dry sky, a strong rapid pulse, and the loss of conscious. If any of these symptoms begin to set in, call 911 immediately and seek medical attention.  

When engaging in outdoor activities, it is important to take precautions to avoid heat related illnesses. In the heat, be sure to take plenty of breaks in a cool place and to stay hydrated.

Stay aware of the weather forecast and aware of changing conditions though the day. The morning hours and evening hours are usually the cooler parts of the day and better for outdoor activities.

Stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay safe.

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