STARKVILLE, Miss.--With weather professionals forecasting a few extremely hot summer days to follow, the Mississippi State University Crisis Action Team would like to take this opportunity to alert the university community to precautions and steps to take to stay healthy during prolonged periods of high temperatures and high humidity.
MSU Geosciences Professor Mike Brown, who also serves as Mississippi's state climatologist, says that the MSU/Starkville community is facing "what is likely to be the hottest period we have seen for a while. Heat index values Wednesday (Aug. 20) through the weekend will likely be in the 110-to-115 degree range (that is with the temperature being taken in the shade). In full sun these values could climb to around 125 degrees."
Why does this approaching heat wave matter for MSU students, faculty and staff? A heat wave is an extended period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and unusually humid weather. A heat wave lasts typically two or more days. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening if the proper precautions are not taken.
Most heat disorders occur because the person has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for their age and physical condition. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an extreme heat hazard:
Heat Wave - Prolonged period of excessive heat often combined with excessive humidity.
Heat Index - A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.
Heat Cramps - Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Heat Exhaustion - Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim's condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat Stroke - A life-threatening condition. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.
Here are appropriate precautions for the coming heat wave:
--Prepare for a heat wave by checking to see if your home's cooling system is working properly.
--Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the cool air inside.
--Plan on being inside a cool building during the hottest time of the day.
--Avoid strenuous outdoor activities and make sure you remain properly hydrated by drinking plenty of water and limiting intake of alcoholic beverages.
--Eat light, well-balanced meals and dress in light, loose-fitting clothing.
--Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle.
For more information on how to best prepare for extreme heat and what actions to take during extreme heat please visit: http://www.ready.gov/heat.
For more information on Mississippi State University, visit www.msstate.edu.