Extreme Heat

August 10, 2023

Temperatures have continued to rise in recent years with 2023 being the hottest summer on record since 1880. Extreme heat is dangerous and can lead to heat-related illnesses like heat cramps and heat stroke. However, death from extreme heat events is preventable.

During times of extreme heat, the following weather alerts may be issued:

  • Heat Advisory
  • Excessive Heat Outlook
  • Excessive Heat Warning
  • Excessive Heat Watch

Heat alerts call for action, preparation and awareness.

Generally, Heat Advisories are issued when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 100 degrees or higher for at least 2 days and nighttime air temperatures will not drop below 75 degrees. This type of advisory is issued within 12 hours of the start of dangerous heat conditions.

An Excessive Heat Warning is issued when the combination of heat and humidity is expected to make it feel like it is 105 degrees or greater. While an Excessive Heat Watch is issued when conditions for extreme heat are favorable but uncertain.

Excessive Heat Outlooks are issued when there is potential for an excessive heat event within the next 3 to 7 days. An outlook allows time to prepare for the heat event.

Heat Index

The heat index, also known as apparent temperature, factors relative humidity and air temperature to measure how an outdoor climate feels to the body. This is the feels-like temperature referenced during weather reports. As temperatures rise, the body circulates more blood to the skin and/or sweats to regulate internal temperature.

When the heat index is high, your body is unable to cool as needed, leaving you at risk for heat-related illnesses. Prolonged exposure to heat indices of 103 or greater can lead to heat illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat rash and heat stroke.

Heat Illnesses

  • Heat cramps are muscle pains caused by salt and fluid loss due to strenuous activity in high temperatures. Treat heat cramps:
    • Stop outdoor activity and move to a cool location
    • Drink sports or clear beverages
    • Rest
    • Seek medical attention if pain persists longer than 1 hour after you begin resting
  • Heat exhaustion happens when the body is unable to regulate its internal temperature after prolonged exposure to hot conditions without adequate fluid intake. Symptoms include:
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Heavy sweating
    • Fatigue and weakness
    • Fainting
    • Muscle cramps
    • Paleness
    • Shallow breathing
    • Vomiting and nausea

Treat heat exhaustion:

  • Stop outdoor activity and move to a cool location
  • Take a cool shower or bath
  • Drink cool beverages
  • Rest
  • Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen while self-treating

Heat rash happens when sweat is unable to evaporate and leaves skin irritated with red clusters of pimples or small blisters. The rash commonly forms on the following areas of the body:

    • Elbow creases
    • Groin
    • Neck
    • Under breasts
    • Upper chest

Treat heat rash:

  • Relocate to a cool place.
  • Dry the area. If washing with water, immediately dry.

Heat stroke is an emergency, heat-related illness that can lead to permanent disability or death if untreated. During heat stroke, the body is unable to regulate its temperature and cool down. The body’s temperature can rise to 106 degrees or higher during heat stroke.

Symptoms include:

  • Confusion, slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hot, dry skin or excessive sweating
  • Seizures

If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 or your local emergency number. Then move out of the heat. Immediately, cool yourself or the person you’re assisting:

  • Remove outer clothing layers.
  • Cool quickly with cold water or ice bath.
  • Place wet cloths or ice on head, neck, armpits, and groin.