Arizonans sweat through some of the highest temperatures in the country. The average temperature in Phoenix in July, according to The Weather Channel, is 106 degrees. Extreme heat like that experienced in Arizona can be dangerous even deadly, pushing the human body beyond its limits. In the summer, The Salvation Army often opens hydration stations across Phoenix to distribute water and educate people about the dangers of extreme heat.
Most heat disorders strike when people spend too much time in the heat or overexert themselves. Older adults, young children, and people who are sick, overweight or have an underlying health condition are more susceptible to heat-related illness.
Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the "urban heat island effect."
A heat wave is an extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening for humans who don't take the proper precautions.
- Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Spend the warmest part of the day inside at home or a public building (e.g., libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities). Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at higher risk for heat-related illness, do not have air conditioning and/or spend much of their time alone.
- Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
To prepare for extreme heat, you should:
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
- 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 reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
- Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
- Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
- Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
In extreme heat, you should:
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
- Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
- Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power during periods of extreme heat.
- If needed visit a Maricopa Association of Governments Heat Relief Network hydration stations.
- Tune to local TV and radio for National Weather Service (NWS) watches, warnings and advisories.
- Research additional information about extreme heat, beginning with the following resources.