NEWS & ANALYSIS

09/01/2023
Columbus OH weather forecast
Climate Preparedness, Health

Extreme Heat: Keep Cool, Stay Safe

As millions across the globe are under heat advisories, temperatures are warming up in Central Ohio. Temperatures in the Columbus area are expected to warm over Labor Day weekend and push into the 90s through Wednesday, September 6th. High heat combined with multiple days of high humidity present potential health concerns for Central Ohio residents.

Heat Index

High temperatures receive a lot of focus when, really, the heat index should be the focus. The heat index or ‘real feel’ is a tool used to indicate how intense the heat is and the risks it poses to people. The higher the index, the more dangerous prolonged exposure is to human health. Several variables in the air affect how the temperature feels, and it can be tricky to communicate. 

Source: https://www.weather.gov/safety/heat-index

High humidity makes the air feel hotter and more uncomfortable. It also affects the body’s ability to regulate internal temperature. The body sweats to cool itself, and when there is a high amount of moisture in the air, it’s harder for the sweat on your skin to evaporate. When humidity reaches a certain level, even moderate temperatures can become harmful.

Who is At Risk?

Source: https://www.heat.gov/pages/who-is-at-risk-to-extreme-heat

Groups most at risk of heat illness include children, older adults, people experiencing homelessness, people with pre-existing conditions, people with disabilities, indoor and outdoor workers, emergency responders, incarcerated people, low-income communities, pregnant people, athletes, and more. Pets and service and support animal owners should take special precautions to protect the health of their animals during extreme heat conditions.

As direct service providers, your staff are an invaluable resource in preventing heat-related illness and death in the Columbus community. Train staff to Avoid. Spot. Treat. and make tools available to be shared with clients and the community.

Health Effects

In hot temperatures, your body may be unable to cool itself properly, leading to serious health problems. Heat exhaustion can occur after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures, and it is often accompanied by dehydration. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, a health emergency.

Avoid. Spot. Treat.

Avoid

  • Prepare for the heat: Tune in regularly to local weather forecasts and alerts. 
  • If going outdoors, wear loose-fitting clothing, avoid prolonged strenuous activities, take breaks often, bring shade, and hydrate properly.
  • Stay cool by spending time in air-conditioned spaces. If you do not have an air conditioner, use movie theaters, malls, libraries, and other cool public places, like rec centers.
  • Use fans to circulate air, and remember to hydrate frequently with fan use. 

Spot

  • Know who is at risk. Check on friends, neighbors, and older adults.
  • Cars can be deadly. Never leave children or animals unattended in vehicles.
  • Know the signs of heat exhaustion and stroke.

Treat

While waiting for medical attention, you can help someone with heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Know the Difference

Heat Stroke – This is a medical emergency – call 911 immediately. 

  • Move the person to a shady area or indoors. 
  • Cool the body by:
    • Placing the person in a cool (not cold) bath or shower;
    • Spraying with a garden hose;
    • Sponging with cool water; and
    • Using a fan to cool their temperature.
  • Continue efforts to cool the person until help arrives or their body temperature falls below 102°F and stays there.
  • Do not give liquids.

Heat Exhaustion

  • Get medical attention if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.
  • Cool the body with:
    • Cool, nonalcoholic beverages;
    • Rest;
    • A cool (not cold) bath, shower, or sponge bath; and
    • Moving the person to an airconditioned room, basement, or cooling center.
  • Wearing lightweight clothing
  • Seek medical help immediately if symptoms are severe or the person has heart problems or high blood pressure.

Tools and Resources

Beat the Heat Fan Campaign Lifecare Alliance

How to Get a Fan

  • Call the Fan Information Hotline at (614)-437-2870 for updated information on the next distribution event.
  • Pick up your fan at LifeCare Alliance’s facility during a distribution event. (670 Harmon Ave. Columbus, OH 43223)

Keep Cool at Columbus Community Centers Columbus Rec and Parks

HSC Cooling Center Map

Educational Materials for Social Media and Print:

Explore our media toolkit for a variety of sizes and printer-friendly versions of our graphics.

Avoid. Spot. Treat. Poster

  • Post in common spaces like lobbies, lunch rooms, hallways, and offices. 
  • Encourage staff to share educational messaging with clients and patients.
  • Share educational messaging in agency communications. Highlight extreme weather ahead of time so staff can prepare to share.

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke Graphic

  • Post symptoms graphics on social media, agency web pages, intranet pages, and communicate in internal emails
  • Use consistent and science or health-based language to educate staff and clients.

September is National Preparedness Month. Heat-related deaths are preventable, and we all play a part.

This is part of a continuing series examining heat and community efforts focused on planning for and adapting to changing weather patterns in Central Ohio. See here for all installments.

Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/orr/infographics/ast-heat.htm