C-Force: Fighting off the Damaging Effects of Extreme Heat
As I relayed last week, Time magazine's Angela Haupt warned in a recent report that the wave of extreme temperatures we are now experiencing are not only unpleasant and irritating but they are messing with our minds and have been linked to acts of aggression and violence.
High temperatures have historically shown to be more of a health threat than folks may imagine. "Extreme heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the U.S. each year, claiming about 158 lives per year nationwide over the past 30 years," she reports.
Many Americans now find themselves in the thick of a terrible heat wave, as the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center tweeted July 21 that "60 daily high temperature records have been tied/broken as dangerous heat enveloped much of the Nation."
"More than 100 million people in the United States (are) facing excessive heat ... 100-degree temperatures became uncomfortably routine on both sides of the Atlantic," reports Matthew Cappucci and Meryl Kornfield of the Washington Post.
The consequences of such heat exposure can be very real, but what does it mean in relation to our long-term health?
As Dr. Ari Bernstein of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently explained on NPR's "All Things Considered," safety strategies that people should employ kick in when the temperature hits about 85 F or above.
"(Excessive temperatures) makes us sweat more, and that can make us dehydrated. And our organs don't really like being dehydrated," he says. "It can also just directly create more heat in the body. And when, you know, our body gets too hot, things don't work normally ... We're designed to regulate our temperature. And if there's too much heat outside and our body's ability to dissipate heat can't deal, the body temperature rises. And that makes our hearts and our lungs and our brains and even our kidneys and other organs not work well ... Certainly people who have existing heart problems, lung problems, kidney problems, even mental health issues -- they get sicker."
"It is not a reason to keep children from being outdoors," he adds. "I think we need to balance what are immense benefits, you know, particularly in summer, of children getting out, exercising, doing all those things with being careful about temperatures that, as we know, as this current moment in time makes abundantly clear, are much higher than they have been."
That said, it is noted that a child born in the United States today "is probably going to experience something like four or five times as many dangerous heat waves than a child who was born in 1960."
There is a lot of great advice now readily available on things we can do to combat the threats posed by excessive heat. You may know about many, but the pivotal question is, are you practicing them?