Understand Extreme Heat:
Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. Heat can be very taxing on the body; check out the heat-related illnesses that can occur with even a short period of exposure. Everyone can be vulnerable to heat, but some more so than others. According to The Impacts Of Climate Change On Human Health In The United States: A Scientific Assessment the following groups are particularly vulnerable to heat; check in with friends and relatives who fall in one of these populations, especially if they don’t have air conditioning.
- Young children and infants are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illness and death, as their bodies are less able to adapt to heat than are adults.
- Older adults, particularly those with pre-existing diseases, take certain medications, are living alone or with limited mobility who are exposed to extreme heat can experience multiple adverse effects.
- People with chronic medical conditions are more likely to have a serious health problem during a heat wave than healthy people.
- Pregnant women are also at higher risk. Extreme heat events have been associated with adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant mortality, as well as congenital cataracts.
Heat Watch vs. Warning:
Excessive Heat Watch: Be Prepared! (Dark Brown)Heat watches are issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. A Watch is used when the risk of a heatwave has increased but its occurrence and timing are still uncertain.
Excessive Heat Warning: Take Action! (Hot Pink)An Excessive Heat Warning is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Warning is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 105° or higher for at least 2 days and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75°; however, these criteria vary across the country, especially for areas not used to extreme heat conditions. If you don't take precautions immediately when conditions are extreme, you may become seriously ill or even die.
Heat Advisory: Take Action! (Orange)A Heat Advisory is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Advisory is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 100° or higher for at least 2 days, and nighttime air temperatures will not drop below 75°; however, these criteria vary across the country, especially for areas that are not used to dangerous heat conditions. Take precautions to avoid heat illness. If you don't take precautions, you may become seriously ill or even die.
Actions for Extreme Heat:
Before Extreme Heat:
Find out what you can do before extreme heat strikes. Preparation is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.
- Be Weather-Ready: Check the forecast regularly to see if you're at risk for extreme heat. Listen to local news or check the Norman National Weather Service webpage to stay informed about heat watches and warnings.
- Sign up for WichitaFalls CodeRED: The number one way to receive an emergency alert from Wichita Falls OEM and NWS is through a CodeRED message. Visit Emergency Alerts for more information on how to sign up and keep your information up to date.
- Build or Re-Stock Your Kit: Have critical items to help you survive before help arrives. During large-scale disasters, help could be delayed.
- Create a Communications Plan: Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information.
- Know your Risks: Learn about heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
- Prepare Your Home:
- Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device. Fans create airflow and a false sense of comfort but do not reduce body temperature or prevent heat-related illnesses.
- Identify places in the community where you can go to get cool such as libraries and shopping malls.
- Cover windows with drapes or shades.
- Weather-strip doors and windows.
- Add insulation to keep the heat out.
- Install window air conditioners and insulate them.
- If you are unable to afford your cooling costs, weatherization, or energy-related home repairs, contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for help.
During Extreme Heat:
Remain aware and monitor local radio and television outlets. Avoid extended periods of outdoor activities at all costs and check on your neighbors.
- Stay Informed: Listen to radio and television, including NOAA Weather Radio if possible, check the Internet and social media for information and updates.
- Look before you lock: Never leave people or pets in a closed car on a warm day.
- Clothing: Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids and stay away from energy/caffeinated drinks.
- Being neighborly: Check on family members, seniors, and neighbors.
- Know the Risks: Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
- Pets: Bring in pets and make sure they have plenty of cool water. Asphalt and dark pavement can be very hot to your pet's feet.