Wednesday may have marked the first official day of summer, but it seems the heat already is in mid-season form. So far this week, the temperature topped the 90-degree mark and will continue to hover north of that mark today - coupled with high humidity. Heat waves like this are not only uncomfortable, but potentially dangerous, as well.
Many people like the hot weather, and higher temperatures are to be expected this time of year. However, it seems the 90 degree-plus temperatures have arrived earlier this year as witnessed by the Memorial Day weekend that also saw temperatures in the 90-plus range.
The majority of us are able to escape the heat. Most people do not work outside and are able to schedule their outside activities during the cooler parts of the day. However, some people cannot do this; their jobs require them to be out during the hottest parts of the day. While the elderly and the sick generally are the ones most at risk for heat-related problems, workers can be high on that list as well because they may not realize the dangers of being in hot, humid weather for extended periods of time.
Sweating cools down the body, but in high heat and humidity, this evaporation is slowed causing the body to overheat. This is a particular danger when the temperature is in the 90s because of the heat index. At 90 degrees with 50 percent humidity, the temperature can feel more like nearly 100 degrees. At 95 degrees with 50 percent humidity, the heat index is 107 degrees.
Workers need to take precautions to cope with the heat. Without drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and taking breaks to get out of the direct sunlight, heat exhaustion is a real possibility. While heat exhaustion can be dangerous, the most deadly possibility is heat stroke, which can kill.
In addition, please check on the elderly residents and shut-in to make sure they have working air conditioners or fans. And don't forget your pets who can also suffer in this type of environment.
Make the summer a fun-filled one and enjoy all of the things that make this time of year special. However, learn the warning signs of heat-related problems and take precautions to avoid them.