Heat Awareness Day: How to protect yourself from heat exhaustion this summer


IOWA — Today is Heat Awareness Day – a day meteorologists set aside each Spring to remind Americans about the dangers of overheating as we begin the summer season. Meteorological summer covers the months of June, July and August – typically the three warmest months of the year.

Thus far in 2021, Des Moines has only recorded two consecutive days with highs in the 80s. That will change soon. With all the fun that comes with warmer days, there is also danger. “On a 30 year average there from 1990 to 2019, Heat was the number on weather-related killer in the United States with 138, on average per year,” says National Weather Service meteorologist Kenny Podrazik.

Drinking extra water, wearing lightweight clothing and sunscreen and taking breaks in the shade are the best ways to prevent heat illnesses like heat exhaustion or heat stroke. You can also diminish your chances of developing heat illness by avoiding the sun during the hottest times of the day.

“Try and limit those outdoor activities during the peak heating of the day, so that’s, you know, sometime in the afternoon between like one and six to say, you know, that’s when it’s really really hot and humid,” says Podrazik.

If you are planning to spend time outdoors this summer, there are a few questions to keep in mind to protect yourself from heat illnesses:

  • Do you have plenty of water?
  • Do you have access to shade or air conditioning?
  • Do you know the symptoms of heat illness?
  • Do you know who to call if there’s an emergency?

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