High temperatures and humidity on the way: how to stay safe

Jeffrey Jelinek, Sauk County Emergency Management Director

As summer heat builds in many parts of Wisconsin, Sauk County Emergency Management and Public Health are urging everyone to be aware of the dangers associated with extreme heat and to take protective safety measures.

Sustained temperatures near or in excess of 90 degrees pose a risk of heat-related illness and death, especially when humidity levels exceed 65 percent. The risk is highest for older adults and individuals with chronic illnesses, or for individuals taking medications that inhibit perspiration and the body’s natural cooling process.

General symptoms of heat exhaustion include fainting, rash, fatigue and nausea. Skin may become clammy and moist or hot and dry. The onset of heat stroke can be rapid and may progress to life threatening illness within minutes. If heat-related symptoms appear, immediate actions should be taken to reduce body temperature.

The following actions are recommended when temperatures are above 90 degrees:

• Drink more fluids during hot weather to avoid dehydration. Rapid weight loss may be a sign of dehydration.
• Spend the hottest part of the day in a cool, preferably air-conditioned place
• Do not plan strenuous activities during the warmest part of the day.
• Use fans to increase ventilation unless temperatures exceed 90° (at which point fans become ineffective in reducing heat-related illness)
• Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath to reduce body temperatures. In addition, wet clothing has a cooling effect.
• Make frequent checks on the status of elderly or ill relatives or neighbors and move them to an air-conditioned environment during the hottest part of the day.
• Make sure animals have cover from the sun and have plenty of water available.

For more information on heat-related health concerns, visit: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/climate/weather/heatillness.htm.