Extreme temps are getting worse. Here's how it's bad for your health

Posted at 3:32 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 17:56:00-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — When it comes to natural disasters, studies show that extreme heat is the number one killer. Now that might surprise some folks because it’s not like we haven’t experienced heat waves before. But because of the climate crisis, we’re actually having more of them.

In the 1960s we would maybe have two heat waves a year. Now, we can have around six each year.

So, why should people be concerned? What can heat can do to the body? Well, fun in the sun can lead to more than a bad sunburn.

People can suffer from:
- Heat rash – which is a skin irritation that stings
- Heat cramps – those are spasms in your muscles that can be quite painful.
- Heat exhaustion – that’s when your body overheats and it can’t properly cool itself. If left untreated it can lead to the most dangerous heat illness, heat stroke.
- Heat stroke - happens when your body temperature rises above 106 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s life-threatening and people can die from it.

Now, people suffering from heat exhaustion can have symptoms like dizziness, confusion, and nausea. They can also become confused or lose consciousness. High temperatures can also make breathing difficult for some folks, and it can put a strain on the heart.

Who is most vulnerable and how should we protect ourselves and loved ones?
Anyone that works outside is susceptible to heat-related illnesses. But our most vulnerable tend to be children, our older generation, and people with chronic diseases. Also, studies have shown extreme heat can cause problems for pregnant women – it can lead to early labor, and increase the chances of stillbirth or having a baby with low birth weight.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones?  Here’s my advice: 

  1. Staying hydrated is essential. When it’s hot and humid out, drink lots of water.  
  2. Take breaks. Cool off in an air-conditioned place or seek shade in a cool area.
  3. Wear lightweight clothing that allows air to flow. Wear a hat and sunscreen.
  4. If you have young children or elderly adults living with you, be sure to check on them often. They can’t regulate their body temperature as well.  

Lastly, if you notice anyone suffering from heat-related symptoms, get them out of the sun, give them water and seek emergency help immediately.