So, if you are like me you have been seeing pictures like this on Facebook, for the past week or even more.
Everyone has been taking pictures of their car's thermometers lately. Yesterday, mine read 110*, but it really wasn't, so what's going on?
First of all, lets start off with what everyone is reporting on the news -- weather forecasts saying that it will feel like it is 103* or even more outside. But, thermometers are going to only show 100*. Why is that?
The "feels like" temperature is the heat index, which is the combination of the outside air temperature plus the relative humidity. The relative humidity is the percentage of the amount of moisture in the air compared to what it would be if the air were completely saturated. So, when you go outside your body reacts like it is 103* or more, even though the air temperature isn't that high.
OK, not that big a deal, after all, if it isn't really real, it can't get you sick, right?
According to the National Weather Service, heat is the number one weather related cause of death in the US. That's more than the big scary weather -- tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards.
When the relative humidity is high, you get that gross, icky feeling, like you are covered in sweat, and any little movement makes it even worse... (you know what I'm talking about). What's going on is that the physiological response that your body uses to prevent overheating, sweating, isn't doing its job -- the air already contains a lot of moisture, so it's not going to absorb the moisture off of your skin (not technically what's going on, but you get the gist).
Without this process happening, your body will overheat, and you can get sick.
So, how do you stay safe? (From the National Weather Service):
- Slow down. Don't over exert yourself during the hottest parts of the day (hold off your workout, stay in the coolest places possible (especially children and seniors) -- this may not be indoors).
- Dress for summer. Your new down coat may be super awesome, but you shouldn't be wearing when it is hot outside. Instead, opt for lightweight, and light-colored clothing that reflects heat and sunlight.
- Put less fuel on your inner fires. Protein speeds up your metabolic heat production and also increase water loss.
Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated beverages.
- During excessive heat periods, spend more time in air-conditioned places. Check out your local library if you don't have AC at home, there are lots of interesting adventures in store for you.
- Don't get too much sun. Sunburn reduces your body's ability to dissipate heat.
- Do NOT take salt tablets unless specified by a physician. Salt can dehydrate you, which reduces your body's ability to self-regulate temperature. So put down the diet pills (you should just do this in general).
For further information, check out the links above, which also include symptoms of heat related illness, so you know what to look for, and what you should do.
Also, take time to check in on the elderly, they don't feel the heat as well as you do, and are more likely to suffer from heat related illness. So go check in on grandma or grandpa, or (substitute grandma or grandpa if you are like me), make sure they are ok, and get them to some AC if they aren't. Maybe you can ask them to tell you about their lives when they were younger, they always love that stuff =)
So for now, keep cool, remember that it's summer, this stuff (like heat) happens, protect yourself, and check back in a few months for the follow-up, "What do you mean it's "like" -9* outside???"
ps, thanks to my friend Hollie for the picture =)