Florida's Summer Hazard - Extreme Heat
Blue skies, white sandy beaches, cool sea breezes, and sunshine...Florida is the Sunshine State, however, during the summer months visitors and residents need to be more aware of the sunshine. In the winter, the sunshine brings welcomed warmth. In the summer, sunshine and heat may be too much of a good thing.
Temperatures & UV Rays
Southern Florida is 400 miles closer to the tropics than northern Florida, though it doesn't feel like it because of the prevailing sea breeze. Summers are often hot and sweltering. Dangerous for people not use to the climate that a temperature of 90 degrees; Humidity at 85%; Heat index of 117 degrees and a UV index of 9 is not uncommon.
Importance of Body Cooling & Perspiration
People can die from excessive heat. Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. Under normal conditions, the body's internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. Elderly people, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to become victims of extreme heat.
People living in urban areas may also be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave. Increased health problem, especially for those with respiratory difficulties, can occur because of pollutant levels in urban areas, thus adding unhealthy air to excessively hot temperatures.
Beat the Heat
High temperatures combined with high humidity increases the risk from heat. Here are some common sense and fun ways to beat the Florida heat:
- Water. Drink plenty of it... even if you are not thirsty. Carry a refillable water bottle. Saving money on purchasing bottled water may encourage you to drink more.
- Dress appropriately. Dress in light-weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Cotton fabric is suggested.
- Wear a hat or carry an umbrella. Blocking the sun's harmful rays will reduce your chances of sunburn, and make you feel cooler.
- Avoid midday heat. The sun is the hottest between noon and 4 p.m. This is a good time to have lunch, nap, go to a movie, or go shopping... indoors.
- Do use "keep your cool" gadgets. Whether it is a spray bottle to mist your face, a small personal fan, an umbrella hat, or a thermal-cool neck wrap - they do help!
- Limit vigorous activity. Limiting vigorous activity during the hottest part of the day is advised.
- Seek air conditioning. If the temperature is above 90 degrees, fans alone often cannot protect you against heat-related illness. Just find a way to keep cool, go to the library, visit a museum, take in a movie, or sit in front a fan and relax.
- Eat light. Avoid heavy foods and opt for foods high in water content - fruits, salads, and soups.
- Take baths and showers. Water conducts heat away from the body, so taking frequent tepid baths or showers is a good cooling technique.
- Enjoy water play. Whether it is the ocean, your hotel pool, a water park, or an interactive splash fountain... enjoy playing in the water wherever you're at.
Terms to Know & Understand
Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity. The National Weather Service steps up its procedures to alert the public during these periods when it anticipates an increase in human heat-related illnesses.
A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.
Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim's condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.
Sunstroke is another term for heat stroke.