The Thermometer Might Not Read 100, But…

Water, rest and shade are critical when working or playing outside. Click on the image for more information.

Water, rest and shade are critical when working or playing outside. Click on the image for more information.

Texas summers arrive in stages. In April, we reluctantly say our final goodbyes to cool temperatures. In May and June, our bodies start acclimating to the heat. In July, we typically see our first 100-degree day, followed closely by a few more, and then a few more. You get the idea.

And August through September is crunch time. That’s when Texans summon whatever physical and mental strength we have left and plow through, our sights set on the prize: the first fall “front.”

Actually, this has been a relatively mild summer by Texas standards. Remember, though, that just because the thermometer doesn’t read 100 doesn’t mean you’re not at risk of heat-related illness. You have the heat index to thank for that.

The heat index is a measure of the temperature and humidity. It is also a more accurate indication of how much stress your body will experience.

Navigating summer temperatures can be an especially risky proposition if you work indoors. For example, maybe you dive into a full weekend of yard maintenance or some other strenuous outdoor labor. Unfortunately, your body may not be acclimated to the heat, increasing your risk of heat illness.

The simple message is, don’t overdo it. As summer sings its customary, excruciatingly long swan song, keep these safety tips in mind.

If you experience signs of heat stress, get inside and cool down. But don’t get back in the game too soon. You might start to feel better, but your body may still be recovering from the toll taken by the heat.

Heat stress isn’t the only potential consequence of heat exposure. Heat can also increase the risk of other injuries resulting from sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness and contact with hot surfaces or steam.

Remember that adults aren’t the only demographic at risk during the summer months. Yesterday, a 10-month-old baby died after being left unattended in a car in South Austin. Stories like this are far too common.

In 2014, 31 children died  after being left unattended in or around vehicles. Vehicles heat up quickly, and not even a window rolled down two inches can prevent that. The temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes if the outside temperature is in the low 80s. Even with temperatures in the 60s or 70s, heatstroke poses a serious risk. A child will die of heatstroke once their body temperature reaches 107 degrees. The U.S. Department of Transportation offers these safety tips to protect children.

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