Each year, more than 650 people die in the U.S. as the result of extreme heat, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). This means that more people die from heat exhaustion than from hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, and floods combined. The good news is that all these deaths are preventable. The bad news is that most people still don’t realize how dangerous heat can be.
In 2014, the occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) declared that 2,630 people suffered from heat illnesses. These heat illnesses include all conditions connected to overheating, such as heat cramps, rhabdomyolysis, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion.
One of the greatest number of deaths happened in 2012 when 32 people died in just 14 days over four states. This was four times the number of fatalities if compared with the average between 1999 and 2009.
What factors can affect your health
There are a lot of factors that can affect you and make you suffer from heat stress, but most of the time it is your work, the environment, your nutrition and training schedules, and the rest schedules. If you are an elder person, you have higher chances of suffering from heat stress, as a result of high blood pressure. People who exercise or work in hot environments are also at risk of suffering from heat stress.
People think that you can suffer from heat stress if the temperatures outside are extreme. But, in reality, the human body starts to suffer from heat stress from only 13.8 degrees Celsius (57 degrees Fahrenheit). Another important factor that puts your health at risk is the humidity. Increased humidity will impale the body's cooling system. The sweat will not evaporate, and thus your body will overheat.
Age and different medication are directly responsible for the heat deaths of more than 50% of people. With age, the body's response to high temperature will reduce, as a result causing heat stress.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke
You can experience heat exhaustion indifferent of your age. The most common symptoms of heat exhaustion are:
- Nausea, headache, dizziness
- Irritability, thirst, weakness
- Vomiting, clammy/pale skin, diarrhea
- Elevated body temperature, heavy sweating, decreased urine output
If you suffer any heat exhaustion symptoms, it is recommended to seek immediate medical care if you want to avoid a heat stroke. You can call your local emergency line if the closest clinic or emergency room is not available.