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Heat Wave Blazes Across Southwest, Costs Lives

A heat wave is spreading across the Southwest, and has recently turned lethal.  Although it isn’t typical for me to write about the weather, in this case, I thought it important to warn about hot weather and the severe health consequences that can result, particularly for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.  When those who are used to hot weather start to complain, you know it’s time to take notice.

Melting Running Shoes

Death Valley, CA resident Mike Wood is one of those individuals who is used to hot weather.  But he said that even he took notice when his running shoes started to melt on the pavement recently.  Crazy as it may seem (and not to mention dangerous), Woods still hit the pavement when the thermometer peaked at 127 degrees.  Civic and emergency officials say that the current scorching heat isn’t the only thing to worry about; it’s also the fact that the weather won’t let up for the next few days, and could possibly get worse.  Sadly, the heat has cost several people their health and even their lives, as emergency officials in the area have responded to very serious heat-related medical calls including an elderly man who appears to have died from heat-related cardiac arrest.

Hot Weather Costs Lives

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that between 1973-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States which is more than the total number who died from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.  People suffer heat-related health consequences when their bodies are unable to compensate for extreme temperatures and properly cool themselves off by sweating.  Those at highest risk are the obese, elderly, the very young, those with mental illness or chronic illness.  However, even the healthy and young can become seriously ill or die from extreme heat if they attempt strenuous activity outdoors.

Take Precautions in Hot Weather 

Although temperatures seemed to have dipped in the Mid-Michigan area, it’s still summer and important to  remember the proper safety precautions when going outside, especially with the Fourth of July just around the corner.

  1. Know your limitations and always stay hydrated.  Drinking plenty of water during hot temperatures is crucial.  It is also important to limit outside activity when the heat rises.  Safety officials recommend putting off outside work until another day if able, or to only do the work in the early mornings or evenings before temperatures soar in the afternoon.
  2. Know the heat stroke symptoms.  Heat stroke symptoms include hallucinations, chills, confusion, dizziness and slurred speech.
  3. Stay informed and stay cool.  Lastly, the Centers for Disease Control reminds us to stay in air conditioned places when the heat rises and to also stay aware of heat warnings.

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