Extreme Heat

Heat can kill people because it pushes the human body past what it can handle. In extreme heat and high humidity, water evaporation is slowed, and the body must work extra hard to keep a normal temperature.

Most heat problems occur because the person has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to give in to extreme heat.

Summer is what Carteret County is known for. With all the fun in the sun to be had, it's also when the potential increases for heat-related injuries. Heat injuries are preventable. Follow these simple recommendations to stay safe in the summer sun:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid heavy meals at lunchtime
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet
  • Wear appropriate clothing
  • Use sunscreen
  • Follow recommended work/rest cycles
  • Keep areas well ventilated
  • Schedule outdoor activities during the cooler part of the day
  • Use the buddy system
  • Monitor those at risk

Extreme Heat: Know the Terms

Heat Wave: Long period of excessive heat, often shared with excessive humidity.

Heat Index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Being in full sunshine can raise the heat index by 15 degrees.

Heat Cramps: Muscular pains and spasms caused by doing a lot of heavy actions. Heat cramps are not the worst. They are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat Exhaustion: Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. There is more blood flow to the skin. This causes blood flow to decrease to the main organs. This causes a form of mild shock. If not treated, the person's problems will get worse. Body temperature will keep rising, and the victim may suffer heat stroke.

Heat Stroke: A life-threatening condition. The victim's temperature control system, which makes sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high to cause brain damage and death if the body is not cooled.

Sun Stroke: Another way to say heat stroke.

Excessive Heat Watch: There is a good chance for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria for at least two days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).

Heat Advisory: Heat index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for one to two days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).

Ways to get ready for long periods of heat:

  • You should make an emergency kit and family communications plan.
  • Put in window air conditioners snugly; insulate if needed.
  • Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
  • Put in short-term window reflectors for use between windows and drapes, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
  • Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers. Outdoor awnings or louvers can lower the heat that comes in a home by up to 80 percent.
  • Keep storm windows up all year.
  • Listen to local weather forecasts. Stay alert about upcoming temperature changes.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to be harmed by excessive heat and may need help.
  • Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.