In the simplest terms, a heat advisory is a period in which particularly hot temperatures is expected.
Heat advisories are issued when the heat index has reached, or is above, 105°F, or when the air temperature reaches 103°F, for two or more consecutive days. This level of extreme heat can, understandably, be very dangerous for people and pets that don’t have a way to keep cool.
Heat Related Health Problems
Even without a heat advisory in effect, the heat we experience in Texas can lead to a number of health problems, including:
- Fainting or Dizziness
- Excessive Sweating
- Cool, Pale, Clammy Skin
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Rapid, Weak Pulse
- Muscle Cramps
These above mentioned symptoms are signs of heat exhaustion, and you should immediately get to a cooler, air conditioned location, drink water, and take a cool shower or use a cold compress.
Heat stroke is an even more serious problem, and should you find yourself experiencing any combination of the following symptoms, you should call emergency services right away:
- Throbbing Headache
- No Sweating Despite High Heat
- Body Temperature Above 103°F
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Red, Hot, Dry Skin
- Rapid, Strong Pulse
- Any Loss of Consciousness
The weather we experience during a heat advisory restricts the body’s ability to cool itself, and when the human body heats too rapidly to cool itself off, or if too much fluid is lost through dehydration and sweating, your body temperature rises and you could very well suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
When Are Heat Advisories Issued?
A heat advisory will be issued within 12 hours of the onset of extreme heat conditions. As we stated above, this is when the air temperature stays at or above 103°F for two or more days, with the nighttime temperature never dropping below 75°F. These criteria do vary across the country, particularly for areas that aren’t used to extreme heat conditions.
How You Can Prevent Heat Related Illness
You can best protect yourself and your family by first ensuring that you have access to functional and effective air conditioning. If you haven’t already, you should schedule AC maintenance to ensure that your cooling system is ready to handle the steadily growing temperatures. Just a few additional ways to keep cool while a heat advisory or heat wave is in effect include:
- Slowing Down: Reduce, eliminate or reschedule any strenuous outdoor activities you had planned until the coolest part of the day. This is particularly true for children, seniors, and anyone with underlying health problems.
- Dress Appropriately: This means lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunshine.
- Eat Right: You may be surprised by how much what you eat affects your body temperature during the summer. Choose cool, easy to digest foods like fruit and salads.
- Drink Water: This doesn’t have to be ice water—in fact most health professionals don’t recommend that anyway. But drinking water and other non-alcoholic and decaffeinated cool beverages will help you stay hydrated. You’ll hear conflicting advice on how much you should drink during the day, but in general, it’s recommended that you have 8 full glasses of water per day.
- Find a Community Pool (preferably indoors!) to Enjoy: If it is an outdoor pool, be sure to use sunscreen and reapply every couple of hours.
- Be Aware of Your Specific Needs: Do you have children? Or maybe you work outdoors? Whatever the case, it’s important to be aware of the specific risks you may face during an excessive heat event. Weather.gov provides numerous tips on how to stay cool and safe during a heat advisory.
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