July was the hottest month ever. What does this mean for the rest of the summer?

Rising temperatures and lack of rain have led to droughts and forest fires.

James Martin / CNET

It’s official, July was the hottest month in the world. The land and the ocean were almost 2 degrees warmer than this century’s average. And so far, 2021 is one of the 10 hottest years of all time. Even though it is mid-August, some areas still face extreme heat waves, wildfires and droughts with no signs of rainfall.

The hottest days of the year will last through mid-August for most of the United States as the global climate crisis continues to fuel extreme weather conditions. And millions of people are still on heat alert with dangerous temperatures. The summer heat continues to be dangerous, with threats of heatstroke, respiratory problems and serious illness.

So the best way to protect yourself from overheating, or worse, is to watch out for some of the more common signs. There are also a few ways to prevent them. Start with practical advice from experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Read more: The heat wave in the United States and Canada summed up in a stunning satellite image

Why are experts now worried about heat waves?

Whenever heat waves do occur, they can be worrisome, especially when there is a sudden increase in temperature or a change in weather conditions in areas of the country where people are not used to the extreme heat. .

Experts are concerned that in hardest-hit areas – like Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. – many of these homes don’t have air conditioning, the director of the National Climate Assessment at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric said. Administration, David Easterling. in an email.

It is not only the high temperatures during the day that cause the bodies to overheat dangerous. If nighttime temperatures remain high both outdoors and indoors, the human body may not be able to cool itself adequately, which can cause profuse sweating, nausea, headaches, and even fainting. dead (see below). This June broke more nighttime temperature records than any previous June.

While heat waves have occurred before, they can also be more severe due to human-caused climate change, Easterling said. When people burn fossil fuels, it increases greenhouse gas emissions, which have been linked to the increasing frequency of extreme heat. Heat waves are becoming more severe and more likely to occur due to the climate crisis.

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It is best to drink water regularly to avoid dehydration and keep nutrients circulating in the body.

Angela Lang / CNET

What is the impact of dehydration on the body?

Dehydration throughout the body is not as simple as thirst. Up to 60% of the human body is made up of water, which is needed to pump nutrients throughout the body. Without enough, systems can fail, exposing you to a medical emergency.

It’s not always easy or possible for people to adequately judge how much water and electrolytes they actually need in extreme heat, Levy said.

Mild dehydration can often be treated by sheltering from the sun, drinking water, and absorbing electrolytes. More severe dehydration may require medical intervention, such as a drop of hydration containing electrolytes.

How are summer temperatures dangerous?

When a person overheats, their body temperature may rise to 103 degrees or more because their internal temperature control system is overloaded and cannot cool down quickly enough. The typical healthy temperature range for babies and adults is less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature above 100 degrees can lead to hospitalization in babies and adults. Sweating is not always enough to quickly cool the body and prevent it from cooking. Extremely high body temperature can lead to heat stroke and damage the brain – it can also lead to death.

“The body has an inherent ability to adapt to high temperatures, but we are concerned when high risk people are in heat for an extended period of time because their bodies may not compensate as well,” Dr. Matthew Levy, professor emergency medicine associate at Johns Hopkins, told me.

People may be at greater risk of overheating due to the pandemic lockdown, which may have kept people indoors in cooler conditions. With restrictions easing across the world, increased exposure to excessive outdoor heat could wreak havoc quickly.

Who is most at risk of heat-related death and why?

While some people can handle excessive heat better than others, some people are inherently vulnerable to extreme heat, according to the CDC.

  • Adults over 65 because they do not adapt as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
  • Infants and children – especially those left unattended in parked cars.
  • People who work outside and who cannot cool off and drink the water.
  • People in low income, especially those who do not have adequate resources for water.
  • People with chronic illnesses may be less likely to detect and respond to changes in temperature or to take medications that worsen the effects of extreme heat.
  • Athletes that exercise or occur in extremely hot conditions during the hottest part of the day.
  • Pets that are left in a car on hot days or that are left outside with little shade or water.
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Hot, red skin with blisters is one of the signs of sunburn, but sunscreen can help prevent it.

James Martin / CNET

What are the signs of heat-related illnesses?

There are five heat-related illnesses to watch out for when a person is exposed to excessive heat, according to the CDC. Look for these signs.

  • Heatstroke: Elevated body temperature. Hot, red skin. Fast and powerful pulse. Headache. Dizziness. Nausea. Confusion. Faint.
  • Heat exhaustion: Profuse sweating. Cold, pale, clammy skin. Fast and weak pulse. Nausea or vomiting. Muscle cramps. Fatigue or weakness. Dizziness. Headache. Fainting.
  • Heat cramps: Profuse sweating during intense exercise. Muscle pain or spasms.
  • Sunburn: Hot, red skin. Blisters on the skin.
  • Heat buttons: Red clumps of small blisters on the skin.

How do you know if someone is at risk of heat-related illness?

Here are some steps to take if you think someone is in serious danger from the heat, Levy said.

  • Call 911 immediately, especially if the person loses consciousness.
  • If it is a life-threatening emergency, such as heat stroke, remove them from the heat as soon as possible and find a cool, shaded area, preferably indoors with air conditioning.
  • If it is not possible to move them to a cool space, try taking them out of direct heat and start cooling them. You can do this by wetting their clothes with water and removing all unnecessary layers of clothing.
  • If they are conscious, give them water or clear fluids with electrolytes to drink.

How can I prevent heat exhaustion?

Here are some tips from the CDC and Levy for preventing heat-related illness.

  • Make sure you have a working air conditioner. Otherwise, find a place to go, like a library, store, or a parent’s house.
  • You can use a ventilator as a temporary solution. It will not lower the temperature of the room, but can help cool you down.
  • You should also check on neighbors and family to make sure they are okay.
  • Wear sunscreen to avoid sunburn, as it can affect your body’s ability to cool itself and can make you dehydrated.
  • Change your routine so that you are not outdoors during the hottest part of the day, the afternoon. Do chores outside or exercise in the morning or evening when it is cooler.
  • Pick up your rhythm and check for signs of heat-related illness if you’re not feeling well.
  • Headache or thirst? Drink clear fluids as soon as possible to avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • Alcohol can affect the body’s ability to regulate hydration and can cause you to lose more body fluid, so try to avoid it on extremely hot days.
  • Avoid hot, heavy foods as they add heat to your body.

For more information on heatwaves, here is what’s happening in the United States and Canada. Also, surface temperatures in Siberia reached 118 degrees and the severe drought and western heat wave, explained.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a health problem or health goals.

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Opal Jones

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