Saturday, June 17

A plan for hot weather is important for maintaining good health.

Now that climate change has blurred seasonal boundaries, here's a new fact about spring, summer, autumn, and sometimes even winter: sweltering heat may be on its way to your area, or it may already be there.

Every year in the United States, high temperatures cause thousands of heat-related illnesses and fatalities. Developing a personal heat plan can assist you in remaining safe when the heat index rises.

Who is particularly vulnerable during the heat of the summer?

Extreme heat can affect anyone. Children, outdoor labourers, those who are pregnant or have health issues or disabilities, as well as the elderly, are more likely to be harmed by rising temperatures. For instance:

Young children, particularly infants, have a diminished capacity to withstand extremely high temperatures.

People who work outdoors may not have access to shelter and may engage in physically demanding work. OSHA regulations stipulate that they require adequate hydration, adequate pauses, and access to a cool area during break time.

People with chronic medical conditions, such as kidney or heart disease, may have difficulty physiologically adapting to hot weather or be more susceptible to its adverse health effects.

Some individuals with disabilities or neurological conditions may have trouble with thermoregulation — that is, controlling their body temperature — or may be unable to take precautionary measures, such as removing layers or moving to a cooler area.

Which weather patterns result in dangerous heat levels?
High temperatures and high humidity both contribute to dangerous heat because they prevent us from perspiring, which is how we cool off. Extremely high temperatures can be hazardous in arid regions.

Danger zones in the United States and internationally diverge. However, hospitalisations and fatalities increase when temperatures surpass a certain threshold. The threshold varies based on how well bodies, cultures, and architecture are acclimated to heat in various locations.

In New England, for instance, where some people (especially those with limited means) may not have access to air conditioning, we observe increases in healthcare utilisation and mortality at lower temperatures than in the American South, where people and organisations may be more accustomed to dealing with hot weather.

When does the heat become a health hazard?
The longer the warm weather persists, the greater the risk.

Some individuals are at risk on a single sweltering day. Multiple hot days in rapid succession during a heat wave can overwhelm people's ability to adapt. People eventually exhaust their physiological reserves, resulting in worsening health conditions and a greater need for medical care.

Surprisingly, spring and early summer are the most perilous times of the year because individuals and organisations are not as prepared for hot weather.

How to create your own heat protection plan
Below are five key elements to consider when developing a personal heating plan: Americares provides additional information in the form of heat tip documents developed in collaboration with the Harvard C-CHANGE team and catered to individuals with varying health conditions.

Planning is essential because extreme heat is occurring more frequently. An analysis by Climate Central found an average of 21 additional dangerous heat days for 232 out of 249 locations between 1970 and 2022.

Stay ahead of the heat wave. Check applications, websites, television, or radio for current and upcoming weather updates. Sign up if local weather alerts are available via telephone or text message.

Make a plan for cooling down. When temperatures are extremely high, you must spend as much time as possible in calm environments. If your home is likely to be too hot and unsafe to remain in, make contingency plans. During a heat wave, you may be able to remain with a friend or relative who has air conditioning. Many cities and municipalities have neighbourhood splash pads for children, as well as cooling centres or air-conditioned libraries, public buildings, and community centres that are open to the general public, sometimes even overnight. Spending time in air-conditioned establishments or malls or in a shaded green area such as a park may also be beneficial.

Drink a lot of fluids. Water is the optimal beverage. Avoid sugary beverages as well as caffeine and alcohol.
Utilise admirers properly. If the surrounding air is comparatively cool, fans are helpful. If air temperatures are extremely high, it is essential to dampen your clothes or skin to prevent your body from overheating and, if feasible, to move to a cooler location.
Understand your individual hazards and the symptoms of heat-related illness. If you have health issues or disabilities, or if you take certain medications such as diuretics, consult your doctor about the most effective methods for you to deal with the heat. In addition, it is essential to recognise the symptoms of heat-related ailments, such as heat rash, sunburn, heat cramps, and heat stroke. This chart from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the warning signs to watch for and what to do in the event of a heat-related emergency.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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