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Extreme Heat Events Cause More Deaths Than Hurricanes & Floods Combined. Here Is How To Stay Safe

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african american man pouring water on his head in a heat wave

The summer heat is getting hotter and hotter as global temperatures soar. That means extreme heat events are becoming more and more common. According to the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 702 heat-related deaths occur year across the United States while an average of 9,235 people are hospitalized.

In comparison, hurricanes in the U.S. caused 68 fatalities and floods killed 145 people in 2021. That makes extreme heat events far more deadlier events. As we’re going into a weekend where the West Coast is expected to face some heat waves, here are some risk factors for heat stroke, how to identify if you’re having a heat stroke, and how to stay safe.

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What’s a Heat Stroke?

Heat strokes and heat exhaustions occur when your body gets too hot. They are life-threatening illnesses that have to be dealt with immediately. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It happens when your body can no longer regulate its temperature. Your body’s temperature can rise to 106-degree Fahrenheit or higher within just 10 to 15 minutes.

The risk factors for heat-related illnesses like heat stroke are high heat and high humidity environments. According to the CDC, here are the signs of a heat stroke:

1. Body temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

2. Hot, red, dry, or damp skin

3. Headache

4. Dizziness

5. Nausea

6. Confusion

7. Loss of consciousness

Heat exhaustions symptoms are similar but also include heavy sweating and fainting.

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How to Prevent Heat Stroke and Other Heat-Related Illnesses

Here are some ways to prevent heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses during heat waves, according to the CDC:

-Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing

-Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have an A/C or your A/C isn’t working, go to public places like shopping malls or your local public library for few hours. Electric fans do not prevent heat-related illnesses once the temperature is in the high 90s and above.

-Limit outdoor activity during the hottest times of the day. Plan outdoor activities during early morning or evening hours when the heat is not at its peak.

-Avoid exercising or working during the heat

-Wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. Since sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down, protecting your skin is crucial.

-Avoid hot and heavy meals that are likely to add heat to your body.

-Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated

-Do NOT leave children in cars even for a very, very short time. Anybody left in a hot car is at risk for heat-related illnesses, but children are even more vulnerable. When you leave the car, always check to make sure everyone has also left the car.