The Most Understimated Killer - Heat
by Brian Kirk, Meteorologist/Reporter
July 17, 2013 4:27 PM
As the summer hits full stride, many of us are well aware of the heat and humidity, and mostly just concerned about getting sunburnt. Well, the heat is much more dangerous to you than a few blisters, it can kill and it does.
In 2012, heat was the number one killer of all weather related phenomena. Also, in a ten-year average, heat also takes the crown for deadliest atmospheric threat to humans.
The human body is an incredible system that has very creative ways to regulate itself. Cooling the body is one of the most important things the body needs to do to keep its internal temperature steady. Once the body feels warm, it starts to sweat to transport the heat from the inside, out into the air where it can be evaporated by the air that surrounds us.
On summer days when the humidity is high, it’s very hard for the body to complete this process because the amount of water already in air makes it more difficult for evaporation to happen. When the body can’t release heat, there is not much it can do. Internal organ temperatures can take an increase in temperature but not very much, again it’s a very delicate system. This can cause major problems.
One of the most stifling places to be on a summer day is inside the car. Children, the elderly, and pets all have had a bad history of problems inside warm cars. Children and the elderly heat up much faster than the average adult, and that makes heat related problems occur quicker.
Pets, especially dogs, are constantly being found dead inside of vehicles. The only place a dog can sweat from is the paws of their feet, and even that doesn’t work very well for them. A dog’s main way of releasing heat is by panting, and being stuck in a car is the last place to be when you are already at a disadvantage such as this.
Check out these images of how hot a car can get within 30 minutes, it might make you think twice about leaving the pooch in the car.
The symptoms of heat related illness can be nausea, dizziness, vomiting, weakness, muscle cramps, irregular pulse, and unconsciousness. If you see any of these symptoms start to surface, get yourself or the victim into a cool place, preferably with air conditioning. Apply cold dressing to the skin, and even a fan if you have one.
On these sweltering summer days, the best thing to do is limit time in the sun, wear sunblock, and drink plenty of water. It’s easy to get in trouble, and preparation is the best key.