FIRST ALERT WEATHER: Heat Awareness Week
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - This week – May 23rd through 27th – marks Heat Awareness Week across the state of Arizona. Whether you are a new resident of Arizona, or you’ve lived here your entire life, it is important to revisit the dangers of extreme heat and how we can keep ourselves safe during the summer months.
The Desert Southwest is no stranger to high heat. From the end of May through early September, Tucson’s average high temperature is at or above 98° each day.
In fact, from June 6th through July 21st, the climate-normal high for the Old Pueblo is in the triple digits every day. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Tucson? 117° on June 26, 1990.
On average, heat kills more people yearly in the United States than any other weather-related hazard (National Weather Service).
The population most vulnerable to heat includes young children, older adults, people with chronic medical conditions, and pregnant women. Check in on your friends and neighbors during the summer months, especially during a prolonged stretch of extreme heat.
During 2021, a record 552 people died heat-related deaths just in the state of Arizona alone (Arizona Department of Health Services). In 302 of those deaths, exposure to excessive natural heat was the primary cause of death listed.
These deaths were preventable, and future heat deaths can be preventable with appropriate awareness, preparation, and action.
HEAT EXHAUSTION VS HEAT STROKE
Knowing the signs of heat-related illnesses can save lives.
Heat cramps may be the first sign of a heat-related illness and can lead to heat exhaustion and/or stroke. Heat cramps are painful spasms in the legs and abdomen. Apply pressure/massage the cramping muscles and give sips of water (unless the person is nauseous).
Heat exhaustion is marked by heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea, weakness, and clammy skin. Move the person to a cooler environment, loosen clothing, and give sips of cool water. Seek medical attention if conditions don’t improve within the hour.
During heat stroke, it is important to act fast! Signs of heat stroke include confusion, loss of consciousness, hot/red skin, and a strong rapid pulse. Move the person to a cooler area and call 911. Loosen clothing and cool their body temperature with wet cloths. Do NOT give fluids.
SUMMER ACTIVITY SAFETY
If you hike or bike during the summer months, plan to do so during the early morning hours when temperatures are coolest. Try to arrive back to your trailhead by 10 AM to avoid the hottest part of the day.
Drink more water than you usually do – aim for 1 to 2 liters per hour while hiking! If you must go alone, be sure to tell someone of your plans and fully charge your phone before heading out.
In addition to staying hydrated, take breaks, find shade, wear sunscreen, and dress in loose and light-colored clothing.
When high temperatures are below 80°, our local heat risk is LOW.
80° to 95°: MODERATE 95° to 110°: HIGH Above 110°: VERY HIGH
LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK!
Never leave a pet or child unattended in a car for any period of time, especially during the summer months. Since 1998, a total of 910 children have died due to Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (noheatstroke.org).
With an outdoor air temperature of 95°, the temperature inside of a closed car reaches 114° after just 10 minutes. Within a half hour, the indoor temperature reads 129°.
If you have young children at home, make sure to keep your car doors locked even in your own driveway or garage. This will prevent your children from playing in your car and accidentally locking themselves in it.
During extreme heat, keep your pets at home; cracking the window does not keep the inside from getting dangerously hot! Children and pets can die from heatstroke in closed hot car within 15 minutes.
To summarize, stay well-hydrated this time of year! Drink plenty of fluids, even before you feel thirsty. Venture out early to avoid the harshest part of the day. Tell others of your plans and keep your phone charged in case of emergency. Know signs of heat illnesses and check on those most vulnerable. Always look before you lock! Never leave a child or pet unattended in a locked car for any amount of time.
This article just scratches the surface when it comes to heat awareness and safety. For more information and resources, visit the National Weather Service’s Heat Awareness Week website.
Heat safety graphics en Español can be found here: https://www.weather.gov/wrn/heat-graphics-SP
Copyright 2022 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.