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What does a heat advisory mean in Miami? How the extreme weather alert can affect you

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When the National Weather Service puts South Florida under a heat advisory, what does that mean?

Do we need to stay inside? Take precautions outside?

Here’s what to know:

When is a heat advisory declared in Miami-Dade County?

▪ The National Weather Service in Miami will issue a heat advisory if the heat index is 105 degrees for at least a couple of hours. Before 2023, the weather service issued a heat advisory when the heat index hit 108 degrees.

▪ The goal is to spread awareness so that people protect themselves from extreme heat that leads to more than 30 deaths and hundreds of hospitalizations every year, according to county estimates.

What is the heat index?

▪ The heat index is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature, according to the weather service. This is how hot it “feels like” on your skin on steamy days.

▪ The weather service will initiate alert procedures when the heat index is expected to exceed 105 to 110 degrees depending on local climate for at least two consecutive days.

When is it too hot to be outside?

▪ The NWS HeatRisk Tool, launched on Earth Day by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides a seven-day forecast using a color-coded scale from green to magenta to tell you if a day is expected to be dangerously hot.

▪ The new tool, which is in a trial phase, allows you to put in your address and see the local forecast with the heat information. If your area shows up as magenta, expect hotter-than-hot record-breaking temperatures.

▪ The tool is different than a heat warning alert you might see on your phone from the National Weather Service because it combines the weather with historical data and context, including information from local medical providers and emergency responders about heat-related incidents. It also takes into account night-time temperatures. That’s important in Miami because it’s an urban heat island, with pavement and buildings absorbing and retaining heat.


What steps can you take to prevent heat illness?

Miami-Dade County has issued several hot weather survival tips, based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice, and noted who is most at risk:

Who is most at risk of heat-related illnesses: Older adults 65 and older, young children, people with chronic health conditions or mental illness, athletes who exercise outdoors, outdoor workers, people living unsheltered or with limited access to air conditioning, pregnant people, and pets.

What you should do:

▪ Stay coolby spending time in air-conditioned buildings.

▪ Avoid direct contactwith the sun.

▪ Reduce physical activity and move to shaded areas.

▪ Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning or evening hours, and dampening your shirt or wrapping a wet scarf or bandana around your neck or forehead could also help.

▪ Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water or drinks with electrolytes if you’re sweating. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Use sunscreen, too, to protect against skin damage.

▪ Limit or avoiddehydrating caffeine and alcohol.

▪ Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.

▪ Watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Seek medical care immediately if you know someone who experiences symptoms that could include high body temperature, headache, dizziness or nausea and confusion.

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