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Heat Wave Predicted for Most of United States


Hot temperatures predicted across the nation

The National Weather Service is predicting a heat wave next week that is likely to include the majority of the United States, with the exception of the Pacific Northwest. Current models, though somewhat uncertain so far in advance, predict temperatures to be above 90 degrees majority of the week for most locations across the nation.

According to the NWS, a high and strong subtropical ridge positioned over the central United States enhances the probabilities for above normal average temperatures in the southwestern, central, and eastern portions of the nation. Excessive heat in the southwestern U.S. already led to temperatures between 118-120 degrees in areas such as Yuma, Arizona, and Palm Springs, California.

Statistics show that in the United States, more deaths are caused per year by heat waves - approximately 130 - than by extreme cold, floods, hurricanes, lightning, or tornadoes. Heat waves this summer have already been deadly, causing four deaths in Arizona when temperatures soared in June. A heat wave that affected the nation directly in 1980 caused at least 1,250 deaths.

No end in sight

The heat does not appear to be easing anytime soon. According to climate reports, 2016 is set to be the hottest year ever recorded -- thanks to climate change and human-induced global warming. The effects of El Niño have also contributed to this years higher temperatures, exacerbating the already record setting temperatures.

The danger of heat waves

Heat waves pose many dangers to human and animal health. The stagnant air in cities can also trap pollutants, which can increase breathing difficulties for those with respiratory ailments such as asthma and COPD.

Knowing how to keep cool during a heat wave is important to preventing dehydration, heat stroke, and death. The NWS urges to public to know the risks of heat waves and to take steps to prevent disorders and illnesses associated with heat waves by following some simple guidelines:

  • Be sure to hydrate by drinking plenty of water.
  • Try to do strenuous outdoor activities in the early morning, which is the coolest part of the day, or reschedule them for a cooler day.
  • Dress in lightweight clothing in light colors to reflect sunlight.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages.
  • Try to spend additional time in air-conditioned locations.
  • Avoid becoming sunburned as it is harder for the body to cool itself.

The NWS encourages awareness of the dangers of becoming overheated and offers information regarding a number of conditions, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

According to the NWS, a few symptoms that may require medical treatment are:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold skin, pale and clammy
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting
  • High body temperature (106 degrees or higher) - heat stroke - always requires immediate medical attention

Overall, the NWS urges everyone to take precautions when temperatures and heat indexes reach dangerous levels: Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, stay in air conditioned locations as much as possible, and be sure to check on elderly or sick neighbors during a heat wave.

It could mean the difference between life and death.

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.