The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that extreme heat causes 658 deaths in the US on average each year. This is more than those in tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined.
Many, if not all, of these deaths are preventable.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported 2,630 heat illnesses in Y 2014. These included all conditions related to overheating, such as rhabdomyolysis, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
In a study released by the CDC in Y 2013, researchers found 7,233 heat-related deaths in the US between Y’s 1999 and 2009. This data also indicates the numbers are rising.
In a 2-week period in Y 2012, excessive heat resulted in 32 deaths over four states in the US. This is 4X the typical average for those same states for the same 2-week frame between Y’s 1999 and 2009.
Just under 70% of deaths happen at home and 91% of those homes did not have air conditioning. Most of the people who died were either unmarried or living alone.
Factors that affect the risk for suffering heat stress include your environment, work and rest schedules, + nutrition and training schedules.
A person is most prone to suffering heat stress if elderly, have high blood pressure or work or exercise in a hot environment.
People might think they can only suffer heat stress when temperatures outside are very warm, but it need only be 57F (13.8C) to suffer the effects of heat stress.
Humidity is another environmental factor affecting the human body’s ability to evaporate sweat, and cool your core temperature. Days of high humidity reduce sweat evaporation, and therefore affect the body’s cooling system.
Wind speed will help evaporate sweat and cool your body.
Acclimating to extreme heat is important if you plan to spend time outside working. In this process, one physically adjusts to the temperature in in the outdoor environment. In a healthy person, this can take up to 2 weeks; a little faster in the heat and slower in the cold.
A person’s physical condition, age and weight are all factors in how quickly you acclimate to your environment. However, this is effective only when you have access to cooling off in times of heat stress. One cannot acclimate to living in an apartment without air conditioning during high temperatures.
Age, medications and metabolic rate are also factors impacting your response to heat.
As a person ages, the body’s response to temperature change is reduced, causing higher risk in elderly individuals. Some medications may also interfere with your brain’s temperature regulation.
If your metabolic rate is high, you may feel warm at 72F (22.2C), whereas someone with a slow rate will feel cool. How often you rest in the heat, seek a cooler environment and schedule water breaks will also affect your response.
Heat stress may make on feel tired, fatigued and irritable, and may cloud thinking. This increases the likelihood of performance decay, leading to poor decisions or an increased risk of an accident.
The goal is to find a balance between the conditions under which you are working or enjoying an athletic pursuit, the amount of rest in cooler environment you get and your fluid intake.
Listen carefully to your body and know the symptoms of heat stress.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively, Stay Cool!
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