California heat wave: What does extreme heat do to our bodies and how can we protect ourselves?
The US is experiencing unusually hot temperatures this weekend so make sure you are prepared for temperatures touching 120 Fahrenheit.
With wildfires raging in New Mexico, people in the southern US should prepare for some incredible heat. From southern Texas to California, people should be expecting daytime temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees greater than usual. 100 degrees fahrenheit plus can be expected across California and it won’t be until Tuesday that it begins to calm down.
The US government classes ‘extreme heat’ as “a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days.” Extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of deaths a year among all weather-related hazards.
People most at risk from this heat are older adults, children, the sick, and the overweight.
What does the heat do to our bodies?
Our bodies need to be kept at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. With temperatures exceeding this, our bodies need to work harder to maintain this temperature. There are multiple illnesses that are associated with extreme heat.
The most common is heat stroke. This can be measured by a temperature reading greater than 98.6. Symptoms include dizziness and a lack of sweat, despite red skin. It is recommended to take the person to hospital. Two other illnesses are heat cramps and exhaustion.
What you can do to keep cool
The ready.gov website has a list of recommendations that you can apply to keep cool this weekend:
Fans are not recommended for cooling as it is the airflow which makes you feel cooler rather than a real reduction in temperature.