MCHD warns of health risks related to high temperatures

June 14, 2021

MOBILE, Ala. — The National Weather Service is predicting hot and humid conditions across our forecast area today and tomorrow, with high temperatures forecast to reach into the lower to mid-90s. The humidity will result in heat index readings as high as 102 to 107 degrees.

While these values are expected to be just shy of the Heat Advisory criteria of at least 108 degrees, they will be elevated enough that those spending extended periods of time outdoors today and tomorrow should exercise caution and drink plenty of fluids.

The Mobile County Health Department is warning people that heat cramps, sunburn, and heat exhaustion are likely, and heat stroke is possible, with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity when Heat Index values are at these levels.
Infants and young children, people aged 65 or older, people who have a mental illness, and those who are physically ill (especially with heart disease or high blood pressure) are at the greatest risk. Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year.
“We urge everyone in our community to understand the dangers of heat-related illnesses or deaths,” said Dr. Bernard H. Eichold II, Health Officer for Mobile County.

Tips for preventing heat-related disorders
• Drink more fluids regardless of your activity level. Do not wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
• Do not drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar. They cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps.
• Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a shopping mall or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
• Electric fans may provide comfort; but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Take a cool shower or bath. Moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Never leave children (or anyone else) or pets in a closed, parked vehicle.
• Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children need more frequent watching.

If you must be out in the heat
• Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
• Cut down on outdoor exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.

• Try to rest often in shady areas.
• Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Also, put sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).