(KCBD) - Officially, it is not even summer yet, but already at least seven children have died in a hot car in the U.S.
Last year, at least 42 child deaths were attributed to pediatric vehicular heatstroke in the United States. The toll in 2016 was 39 and in 2015, 24. By the way, it doesn't have to be hot. The first recorded death this year was in February.
When it comes to heat and health, it's not just about heat. It's about heat AND humidity.
The body cools itself by moving heat to the skin where it can be removed by transfer to the adjacent air, and by perspiration and evaporation. The lower the humidity of the air surrounding the body, the more efficient this process is. Higher humidity hampers the process.
This process is also why it's recommended to wear clothes that are made of light-weight (and colors) and moisture-wicking material. Cotton is a poor choice, because once it absorbs sweat it blocks further cooling, and it is heavy when saturated.
The effects of heat are cumulative. While your body may have no problem shaking off one or two very hot days, it becomes more difficult as the number of days increases.
A Heat Advisory is in effect until 8 Wednesday evening. I expect at least some of the KCBD viewing area will be placed under Heat Advisories Thursday and Friday.
A few hot-weather related terms:
Heat Index (HI)
aka the "Apparent Temperature", is a measure of how hot it feels when the Relative Humidity (RH) is considered in addition to the actual air temperature.
A period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and humid weather, typically lasting at least two days. Hot oppressive days with little relief at night.
A mild form of heat stroke, characterized by faintness, dizziness, and heavy sweating.
A condition resulting from excessive exposure to intense heat, characterized by high fever, collapse, and sometimes convulsions or coma. Heat Stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency - call 9-1-1.
Excessive Heat Outlook
May be issued when a combination of temperature and humidity over a period of days may put stress on people and animals.
Issued when a heat index of 105° to 115° may be reached, or nighttime lows of at least 75° (in some areas of the country, above 80°), for 2 consecutive days and nights are expected.
Excessive Heat Watch
Issued when a heat index in excess of 105º combined with nighttime low temperatures of at least 75° (in some areas of the country, at least 80º) are forecast for two consecutive days.
Excessive Heat Warning
Issued when a heat index of at least 105° for more than 3 hours per day for 2 consecutive days, or a heat index more than 115° any period of time, is expected.
In the days ahead, remember:
- Limit outdoor activity and try to avoid outdoor physical activity during the afternoon.
- Schedule outdoor work for the early morning/evening.
- Reschedule your jog or bike ride.
- Use 30+ SPF sunscreen - sunburn reduces your body's ability to cool itself.
- Drink extra water - avoid caffeine and alcohol - and replace electrolytes.
- Take frequent breaks - preferably in an air-conditioned indoor space.
- When outside wear lightweight and light-colored clothing, and wear a hat.
- Check the back seat!
- NEVER leave children, or an adult with health issues, or even pets, inside a parked vehicle!
- DO NOT spray children, pets, or plants with a garden hose until you're sure the water is not hot.
- BURN BANS remain in effect for nearly every county in the KCBD viewing area. The wildfire danger will remain elevated until more significant precipitation returns to West Texas.