Here Comes the Heat - KMSP-TV

Here Comes the Heat

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Temperatures will be rising over the next couple of days and so will the humidity. This will make things far warmer and more uncomfortable as we go through midweek. Record highs are not in our immediate future, we will actually be well shy, so calling it a heat wave may be a little overstated. However, this will likely be the warmest week of the year so far with highs in the low to mid 90's. But it's the combination of the heat and the humidity that can really make it uncomfortable allowing the heat index to climb as high as the low triple digits. So why is the heat index so important?

The heat index is a combination of air temperature and humidity in an attempt to determine how hot it feels. I mean, let's face it, 90 degrees with low humidity feels a lot better than 90 degrees with high humidity. Well, for most of us anyway. But why is that?

Well the body normally cools itself using perspiration… your sweat. The whole purpose for your body to sweat is so that the water on your skin can evaporate allowing the body to cool from that process. Low humidity levels in the air allow this process to occur far more efficiently than at high levels. If the body's natural cooling process doesn't work well, we perceive that as "feeling warmer." If we are exposed long enough in high heat, than the body's temperature climbs to dangerous levels and health risks ensue after that. Now the heat index is entirely subjective a lot like the wind chill is in the winter (one person may think it feels like 100 while someone else thinks its 105), but scientists came up with a complex formula for developing such an index based on how the average body works and how that relates to temperature.

So here are some tips to stay cool over the next few days:

• Slow down, and reduce strenuous activity. Mow the lawn or garden in the early morning or late evening instead of midday.

• Dress in lightweight, nonrestrictive, light-colored clothing.

• Drink plenty of water or other nonalcoholic fluids.

• Eat light, easy-to-digest foods.

• Seek out shade if you have to be outdoors for extended periods. Spend more time in air-conditioned places.

• Check on elderly neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure they are okay.

• When outside, take frequent dips in the ocean or pool, or mist yourself with a water bottle. When inside, take frequent cool baths or showers and use cold compresses to cool off.

• Apply high-SPF sunscreen frequently when outdoors.

• Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of heat illness which would include: An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F), Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating) ,Rapid or strong pulse, Throbbing headache, Dizziness, Nausea, Confusion, and Unconsciousness

• DO NOT leave children, the elderly, or pets in the car for any reason, for any length of time. A dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to more than 200 degrees F!

• DO NOT stay in the sun for long periods.

• DO NOT take salt tablets unless directed by a physician.

• The hardest one for many will be to AVOID alcoholic beverages; they can dehydrate you and increase your risk of heat stroke and other potentially fatal heat-related illnesses.

Here is what the current forecast is showing for peak afternoon heat indexes from Tuesday to Thursday.

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