Health Department Encourages Safety Precautions during Hot and Humid Weather
(Des Moines, IA) – Central Iowa is approaching the first significant heat event of the season. The past week has been rather cool. However, the hot and humid summer conditions will accelerate Monday and Tuesday, which can cause heat-related illnesses. Temperatures will peak in the upper 80s and lower 90s with heat index values reaching the lower 100s.
“High heat and humidity after a period 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,” said Rick Kozin, director of Polk County Health Department. “A rapid increase in body temperature is possible if the body cannot cool itself.”
For the body to cool itself, the body sweats and the moisture evaporates off of the skin. 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. 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/.
Signs of heat exhaustion include feeling faint, body aches, stomach pain, nausea and elevated body temperature. Heat stroke on the other hand is an emergency situation and can be life threatening. Signs and symptoms to watch for include shock, unconsciousness and seizures.
Health Department officials 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.
For more information regarding extreme heat, visit our web site at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.