Temperatures that hover 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region and last for several weeks are defined as extreme heat. Heat kills by taxing the human body beyond its abilities.
In Georgia, it is not unusual for temperatures to soar into the 90s. In a normal year, approximately 175 Americans succumb to the demands of summer heat. Only the cold of winter – not lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or earthquakes – takes a greater toll. Humid or muggy conditions can add to the discomfort of high temperatures. A heat wave combined with a drought is a very dangerous situation.
Prepare for Extreme Heat
- Check to see if your home’s cooling system is working properly.
- Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the cool air inside.
- Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
- Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside, and weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
- Keep storm windows up all year.
Plan to Slow Down
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
- Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
- Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spending some time each day (during hot weather) in an air-conditioned environment will provide some protection. Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Drink plenty of water. People with epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets, or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
- Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
- Learn about the types of medical conditions that can result from heat waves and the proper first aid measures that should be taken.
- Heat exhaustion symptoms are heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale, and clammy skin, a thready pulse, and possible fainting and vomiting.
- Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency that occurs when the body temperature reaches 106° F. or higher. Symptoms include hot dry skin, rapid and strong pulse, and possible unconsciousness. Summon immediate emergency medical assistance.
- Closely monitor a local radio station, TV station, or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest information.