by Virginia Morgan White
As the upper level high across the Gulf Coast expands eastward, Alabama will experience some pretty hot temperatures with highs at or above 90 F the next few days. The humidity also will creep up a little more each day.
Air conditioning is a welcome respite from the heat and humidity we experience in Alabama. Even so, it's hard to stay in the cool all the time. Whether or not you have air conditioning, be aware of the hazards of excessive heat.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), one or more parts of the United States will experience a heat wave each summer. Heat waves in our part of the country tend to combine high temperatures with high humidity.
Three types of heat alerts are issued by the NWS Forecast office.
Excessive Heat Outlooks are issued when there is potential for an excessive heat event in the next 3-7 days. The outlook is based on the combination of temperature and humidity over the specified period of days.
Excessive Heat Watches are issued when conditions are favorable in the next 24 to 72 hours.
Excessive Heat Warning/Advisories are issued when an excessive heat event is occurring, is imminent or has a very high probability of occurring. A warning is used when conditions pose a threat to life. An advisory is issued for less serious conditions that can cause significant discomfort that may lead to life-threatening conditions if precautionary measures aren't taken.
All three types of alert are based on Heat Index (HI) values. The Heat Index is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity (RH) is added to the actual air temperature. For example, if the air temperature is 80° F and the relative humidity is 70 percent, the Heat Index (how it feels) is 83° F, and if the air temperature is 90° F and the relative humidity is 70 percent, the Heat Index is 105° F. If you're in the sun, these temperatures may feel up to 15 degrees hotter.
As hot as it might be outside, car interiors and other unventilated spaces get even hotter. Dark dashboards and car seats contribute to the heating of cars. The sun on an 80° F day can heat the interior of a car to 123° F in one hour. Interior surfaces directly exposed to the sun can be even hotter.
Keep children safe
Extremely hot and humid weather affects our bodies' ability to cool. Young children and older adults are very susceptible to heat illnesses. Other conditions that can make some people more susceptible to heat are obesity, fever, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, prescription drug and alcohol use, and sunburn. Heat-related illnesses include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke (sunstroke). Heat stroke can result in death.
Heat safety tips
Source: Heat: A Major Killer (NWS)
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