Protect your family against excessive heat

Published 2:15 pm Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity. Generally temperatures are 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region during summer months, last for a long period of time and occur with high humidity as well.

Do you know the difference?

Excessive heat watch means conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local excessive heat warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.

Excessive heat warning-heat index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least two days (daytime highs=105-110 degrees Fahrenheit).

Heat advisory-heat index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for one to two days (daytime highs equals 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit).

How can you prepare?

Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.

Discuss heat safety precautions with family members. Have a plan for wherever you spend time—home, work and school—and prepare for the possibility of power outages.

Check the contents of your emergency preparedness kit.

If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.

Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.

What should you do during a heat wave?

Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service.

Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.

Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

Postpone outdoor games and activities and take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.

Mary Kinard is the executive director of the Shelby County Red Cross. She can be reached at 987-2792.