By The Chenango County Dept. of Public Health
Each year more people in the United States die from extreme heat exposure than from hurricanes, lightening, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. On average, about 300 people die each year from exposure to heat.
The Chenango County Public Health Department recommends that everyone understand the warning signs of heat-related illness and take special care of those at risk.
“The elderly and young children are at particular risk for heat illness. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. When humidity levels are high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly,” Marcas Flindt, Director of Public Health said.
“Other conditions lending themselves to increased risk are obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, prescription drug use, and alcohol use,” he said.
Air conditioning provides the best protection from heat exposure and heat-related deaths. However some people may be fearful of high utility bills and limit their use of air conditioning. This places people who may be already at risk for heat illness at increased risk.