Extreme Heat Deadlier Than Extreme Storms

Violent storms ravaged much of the country this spring. Mostly in the form of deadly and highly destructive tornadoes. Especially in states such as Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Hurricane season is now in full force. And experts predict a very active season. Flooding is sure to follow.

But there is a weather component even more deadly than tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding combined. It’s extreme heat. An average of 1,300 Americans die from severe heat each year. That’s according to the EPA.

Many others suffer from heat rash, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. Today I want to tell you about how dangerous high heat can be as summer is about to begin. As well as what you can do to keep yourself safe.

Will 2024 match 2023 for heat?

Last year was the hottest on record around the world, according to NASA. And this year could match it.

In June 2023, more than 100 million Americans were under an extreme heat advisory. That’s nearly one in three people.

And this year? Well, four months ago was the hottest February in the U.S. That’s according to records stretching back to 1940.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts above-average temperatures this summer. The Weather Company says it will be an “abnormally hot” summer.

Many heat-related deaths come from widespread blackouts due to strain on the electric grid. No air conditioning and food spoiling is a rough combination. Especially for the elderly.

Seniors (and others) face heat-related health issues

Extreme heat can lead to a number of health issues. Including heat rash, heat cramps, dehydration, and heat stroke. Seniors and the elderly are especially vulnerable.

Heat rash occurs when sweat is trapped in the skin. Symptoms range from small blisters to deep, inflamed lumps. Some forms are itchy. It usually fades when the skin cools.

Heat cramps are more serious. These involuntary muscle spasms are caused by fluid and electrolyte loss. Muscles most often affected are calves and arms. Also, the abdominal wall and back.

Another major problem with excessive heat is dehydration. This occurs when the body does not contain enough water and other fluids to carry out normal functions.

Prolonged exposure to high temps can cause the body to overheat. If left untreated, heat stroke can result in damage to organs. The longer treatment is delayed, the more serious the situation.      

Ways to keep cool in a blackout

Here are some ways to stay cool during a power outage:

  • First, make sure your air conditioner is in good shape. Schedule an appointment with your AC maintenance company so they can confirm it’s ready for the summer heat. Remove leaves and other debris from around the unit. Consider investing in a solar-powered portable AC.   
  • Dress in loose, lightweight clothing. This allows for airflow between skin and material. Organic fibers such as cotton and linen are best. Lighter-colored clothing reflects rather than absorbs light and heat.
  • Stay on the coolest, lowest level of your home as much as possible. Close off hotter rooms. Place a towel at the bottom of the door to keep warm air from seeping in. 
  • Wait until evening to use a generator to power heat-generating appliances. 
  • Avoid physical labor. Reserve those activities for cooler portions of the day. 
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid heavy meals, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol. If you’re perspiring, drink fluids containing electrolytes.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. A half-full or full freezer can keep foods frozen for 24-48 hours. If an outage lasts longer than four hours, remove meat, milk, and other dairy products from the fridge and pack in a cooler with ice or an ice-free thermoelectric cooler.
  • Use safe alternative food preparations, such as an outdoor barbecue grill. 
  • Keep a first-aid kit in your home and car. Including scissors, tweezers, safety pins, aspirin, eyewash, and rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. 
  • Close drapes and blinds on the sunny side of your residence.
  • If the temperature is cooler outdoors than indoors overnight, open windows to let cooler air in. Hang a damp towel against open windows. Air will cool as it passes through the damp fabric.    
  • Take a cool shower at least once a day. When finished, allow the water to cool your body as it evaporates. 
  • Take your family and pets to a basement or other cool location. Also consider going to an air-conditioned public place during the hotter daytime hours.        

Finally, check on friends and relatives – especially children, seniors, and those with medical conditions or disabilities.

Extreme heat is nothing to mess around with. It’s even more deadly than extreme weather. Do your best to stay cool this summer.


Read More: Extreme Heat Preparedness Guide >>

Read More: 12 Unusual Ways to Stay Cool >>

Read More: Summer Heat Survival Tips for Pet Owners >>

Find Extreme Heat Summer Safety Essentials Here >>

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