Ali Shapiro, Christopher Ingliata, Elena Burnett
Of course, summer is always hot. But today’s heat wave is different from those days. 60 years ago. Heat waves are becoming more intense and longer lasting due to a warming climate.
Prolonged periods of high temperatures in areas accustomed to such sweltering weather pose an increased risk to both humans and humans. infrastructure I meant to support them.
Climate experts and meteorologists worry that such “heat domes” will become more common as the planet heats up.
About 700 people still die each year in the United States from heat-related exposures, according to the report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Therefore, it is important for people to stay cool and protect themselves from extreme heat.
To understand how and what to look for, visit NPR’s all things considered We spoke with Christina Dahl, senior climate scientist at the Coalition of Concerned Scientists, about which groups are most at risk, the early symptoms of heat-related illness, and what cities and individuals can do to reduce their risk. heard.
Who is most at risk?
Older people tend to be at the highest risk of heat exposure, Dahl said.
“As we age, our body’s ability to regulate body temperature becomes more difficult, so adults have a harder time expelling the body’s built-up heat when it’s very hot outside,” she says.
Athletes are also at high risk for heat-related illnesses.
“When you’re young, healthy and fit, it’s often difficult to listen to your body’s early signs of heat stroke,” says Dahl. “And unfortunately, extreme heat exposure can cause healthy, fit people to exercise outdoors, reduce their physical activity, and not take precautions to stay indoors and stay cool. I see them die every year.”
If you are experiencing the early symptoms of heat stroke, it is important to rest and hydrate.
What are the symptoms to look out for?
Dizziness, headache, and feeling very tired are some of the early symptoms of heat stroke, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Dahl says it’s important to pause and stop what you’re doing if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, regardless of your age.
“Set aside time to lie down, drink water, and go somewhere cooler if possible,” she says. “So for some it’s an air-conditioned home or apartment. yeah.”
If your body temperature reaches 103 or above, you may have heat stroke and need emergency medical attention. According to the CDCCall 911, move the person suffering from heat stroke to a cool place, and try to lower their body temperature by applying a cold washcloth or taking a cold bath. Don’t give them a drink.
How can I take care of myself and others?
Pay attention and do not ignore or ignore the initial symptoms.
“It’s easy to miss when you’re outside mowing the lawn and only have the last few rows of grass left, or when the soccer game is 10 minutes away. Practice,” says Dahl. “But if you’re starting to feel these symptoms, it’s very important to rest, stay hydrated, and keep your body temperature down.”
If you are not elderly, it is important to check if any of your neighbors or relatives are elderly.
“[Make] I’m sure they have a chance to cool down,” says Dahl, “because they’re not sitting.” [in] There is no air conditioning, no fans, no access to places like cooling centers, and you are in a hot house all day. ”
How does the heat index affect me?
When it comes to heat experienced by the body, temperature is just one factor, says Dahl. Humidity is also an important factor.
“When the humidity rises, it becomes harder for sweat to evaporate from the skin, and that evaporative effect cools the body,” says Dahl. “The heat index is a combination of temperature and humidity. High humidity makes our bodies feel hotter, and our bodies feel that temperature hotter, so it’s often called ‘feeling temperature.’ increase. ”
If you live in an area where humidity is a problem, be sure to check the heat index as well as the temperature, says Dahl.
What can employers and cities do?
People with jobs that require being outdoors should be aware of the early signs of heat stroke, but employers also have a responsibility to manage the risks, Dahl said.
“Employers also have an obligation to provide adequate hydration, breaks, shade, air conditioning, and possibly shift work hours to earlier and cooler times,” Dahl said. “Workers cannot bear all the burden themselves, because work is often designed to discourage them from taking breaks.”
This applies, for example, to farmers. If they are paid based on the amount of fruit they harvest while on duty, they may not be inclined to spend a lot of time cooling down.
Cities can be hotter than surrounding areas This is due to the high amount of concrete, the low number of trees and the high natural land cover. However, local governments can play a role in mitigating this urban heat island effect.
“Something like plant shade trees “This is an incredibly effective measure,” says Dahl. “There is also a program to paint rooftops white, which helps reflect heat away from the city’s surface, so buildings retain less heat and people stay cooler.”
This article was originally published in 2021. NPR’s Wynn Davis edited this interview for the web.