Heat Awareness Day: Know how to stay safe in summer's heat

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - We’ve already had some high heat this season, but it’s likely we’ll have more.

On average, a Heat Advisory will be issued about two or three times per year and means that the heat index is forecast to rise above 100 degrees. An Excessive Heat Warning won’t usually be issued every year, but the average is about every other year. It means that the heat index is forecast to be above 105 degrees, and for at least a couple of days the heat index will stay above 75, even during the night. In the worst of heat waves, these advisories and warnings can go for several days at a time.

The heat index is a “feels-like” temperature that factors the actual temperature (which is measured in the shade) and the relative humidity. This is important because the human body naturally cools by evaporating sweat. If it’s too humid for sweat to evaporate as much, then it’s harder for the body to cool. This can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion symptoms include being faint or dizzy, excessive sweating, cool and clammy skin, nausea or vomiting, as well as a rapid or weak pulse. Muscle cramps may also occur. If this happens, get into a cool, air-conditioned place. Drink water, take a cool shower, or use cold compresses.

Heat stroke is serious and is considered an emergency. Dial 911 immediately! Symptoms include a throbbing headache, no sweating, body temperature above 103 degrees with red, hot skin, and nausea or vomiting. A rapid, strong pulse may accompany these and it’s possible you may lose consciousness. Heat stroke can be fatal.

It's important to keep a watchful eye on kids this time of year. Their bodies respond to temperature more quickly than adults. Be certain to never leave pets or kids in the car! Even on a mild day, the temperature in a car rises well above 100 degrees.