DC weather: Know the signs of heat-related illnesses

As warmer weather arrives, you can never predict when temperatures will rise into the 90s or higher, with humidity creating unhealthy and hazardous conditions. 

It's important to prepare and to know and recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. That knowledge may save your or someone else's life.

According to the CDC, people 65 and older, children younger than 2, and people with chronic diseases or mental illness are at the highest risk from extreme heat.

Dr. Meredith Porter, medical director with Inova Go Health Urgent Care Centers, says, "Heat exhaustion will often lead to heat stroke if we do not recognize it and act appropriately. So, heat exhaustion symptoms often be related to doing activities out in the heat, and you will see an increase in your core body temperature, typically about 101 and up to 104 degrees. "

Heat-related illness symptoms

She says there are vital signs to watch for.

"It's starting to be where our body's cooling mechanism is just not working like it should be," Dr. Porter said. "The heat exhaustion symptoms can be nausea, it can be vomiting, you might feel dizzy or lightheaded, and a little headache might occur. When we recognize that, we want to take interventions to prevent the heat stroke."


Maryland couple among those who died on pilgrimage to Mecca during extreme heat

FOX 5 learned over the weekend, a Bowie, Maryland couple who left earlier this month to embark on an Islamic pilgrimage died due to the extreme heat, according to the couple’s daughter.

The National Weather Service's U.S. Natural Hazard Statistics Report states that heat has caused more deaths in the U.S. annually than hurricanes and tornadoes combined over the past 30 years.

Heat-related deaths are preventable, but despite this fact, more than 1,220 people are killed by extreme heat across the U.S. every year.

CDC's HeatRisk map

In April, it was announced that the CDC in partnership with NOAA launched a new heat and health initiative.

"Heat is the number one weather-related killer and that's why we looked into creating HeatRisk," said Kimberly G. McMahon, NWS public weather services program manager. "It provides five different categories for 7-day forecasts so that anyone can take a look and see how impactful the heat may be to them. green being that there is little to no risk, yellow being our minor category where if you are sensitive, you should start taking action. orange being an even higher threat. Red is going to impact everyone, especially if you don't stay cool and stay hydrated. And Purple, or Magenta, which is our extreme category, is for those long duration or very extreme or record-breaking events."

Some other things to remember to help protect yourself in extreme heat are to check your fans and air conditioners and make sure that they are in good working order, stay well hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol as they lead to dehydration. You should also wear light, loose clothing, do not exercise outside in extreme heat, and take cool baths or showers.

Enjoy the summer weather but educate yourself on how to stay safe and healthy when extreme heat arrives.