Health Department and National Weather Service Recognize Iowa Heat Awareness Day
Des Moines, IA) – The Polk County Health Department and the National Weather Service are recognizing today as Iowa Heat Awareness Day. Unfortunately, every summer in the state of Iowa and throughout the United States, individuals are hospitalized or die from heat related illnesses.
“Extreme heat kills more Americans each year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes and floods combined,” said Rick Kozin, director of the Polk County Health Department. “If people take the proper precautions during extreme heat conditions, tragic events like death will not happen.”
Extreme heat conditions happen when there are periods of high temperatures and high humidity with little overnight cooling. For the body to cool itself, the body sweats and the moisture evaporates off of the skin. High heat and humidity after periods of cooler weather can be a shock to the bodies of people who aren't accustomed to the heat yet, especially older adults, very young children and people with physical challenges. When it is humid out, evaporation doesn’t take place and the body cannot cool as well. Your body temperature can increase to a fatal 106 degrees in as little as 10-15 minutes and heat stroke can happen. Heat stroke is an emergency situation and can be life threatening. Signs and symptoms to watch for include shock, unconsciousness and seizures.
“Now is the time to plan and prepare for the impacts of extreme heat,” said Kelsey Angle, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Staying informed and prepared to beat the heat help build a Weather-Ready Nation.”
The Health Department and the National Weather Service would like to remind everyone to take extra precautions during the hot and humid weather:
- If you work or spend time outside, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.
- Drink a lot of cold water and take frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning. Do not wait until you are thirsty. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages and instead drink cold water throughout the day.
- Call family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning to make sure they are okay.
- Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing.
- Never leave children or pets alone in a vehicle for any length of time.
- Spend at least two hours a day in air conditioning to avoid heat related illnesses.
The Health Department has created a new toolkit for individuals, organizations and community partners to use as educational resources during the extremely hot summer months. The information can be found on our web site at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health. Many public places like malls, libraries, senior centers, are air conditioned and are open to the public as daytime cooling centers. Two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce the risk of health problems. For a full list of daytime cooling centers, visit the Polk County Health Department’s web site at /health/ or call 211 to find the location closest to you.
For additional information on extreme heat, please visit our website at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.