Keeping Cool in Extreme Heat

By Alex Gorsky

I am lucky enough to be able to know my grandparents. My maternal grandmother lives in Florida while my dad’s parents live in the same town that I do. I get to see them all fairly often when I am not in school and they always want to know what I have been up to and what I plan on doing with my life. I tell them I am not quite sure but that I am interested in the environmental field. When I told them that I was going to be working for the Environmental Protection Agency they were happy for me. Even better, I was going to be working on the Aging Initiative, and would give them information about staying healthy in today’s environmentally conscious world.

One day I called up my grandmother in Florida and we began to talk about our summers, how hot it was, and her preparing for the hurricane season. As we’re talking about it, it struck me odd as to how much preparation there is before hurricane season, but practically no one pays attention to or adequate preparation is given for extreme heat events. An extreme heat event is when the temperature reaches at least 10˚ F above the region’s average high temperature. For example in Tampa, Florida it would be over 100˚ F and in Chicago it would be anything over 91˚ F Extreme heat events kills more people than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. All around the country this summer people have been experiencing extreme heat events. Fortunately, my grandparents have air conditioning, which is the best thing to use to prevent hospitalization due to exposure to excessive heat.

Unfortunately there are many people who live without air conditioning in areas with excessive heat. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent heat stroke and other illnesses caused by extreme heat events. You can visit an air-conditioned building in your neighborhood like a senior center, movie theater, or library. You could also take a cool shower. Drinking lots of fluids, not only when you are thirsty, is another easy way to prevent heat stroke.

Hopefully you will pass this information on to your grandparents too.

About the author: Alex Gorsky is an intern in the Office of Public Engagement. He is a senior at Beloit College majoring in Environmental Studies.

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