COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It gets hot in South Carolina.
In August, 2007, temperatures reached 100 degrees or higher for 13 days in Columbia. In fact, there are just a few months that have produced more 100 degree or higher temperature days on record. (Temperature records for Columbia began in 1887.)
The months with the greatest number of days with 100 degree temperatures or higher for Columbia include:
- 17 days in July, 1993
- 15 days in July, 1986
- 13 days in August, 2007
- 12 days in August, 1900
- 11 days in July, 1954
- 10 days in June, 1952
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers these facts about extreme heat:
Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.
Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.
Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the "urban heat island effect."
Know the terms
Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.
A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.
Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim's condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
A life-threatening condition. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.
Another term for heat stroke
To prepare for extreme heat, you should:
- Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
- Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
- Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
- Keep storm windows up all year
What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
- Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
- Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
- Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Drink plenty of water. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
- Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
An emergency water shortage can be caused by prolonged drought, poor water supply management, or contamination of a surface water supply source or aquifer.
Drought can affect vast territorial regions and large population numbers. Drought also creates environmental conditions that increase the risk of other hazards such as fire, flash flood, and possible landslides and debris flow.
Conserving water means more water available for critical needs for everyone. Appendix A contains detailed suggestions for conserving water both indoors and outdoors. Make these practices a part of your daily life and help preserve this essential resource
Extreme heat brings with it the possibility of heat-induced illnesses. The following table lists these illnesses, their symptoms, and the first aid treatment.
Don't forget the pets!
- If at all possible, keep animals inside during heat waves.
- Make sure longhaired animals are shaved, but not so close that they get sunburned!
- Animals who are chained to trees or are visibly without shade or water should be reported to Animal Control.
- A dog's temp should be 100 to 102.5 degrees, a cat should be 100 to 103 degrees, at 104 their brains can be severely damaged.
- In addition to the normal water, it may be worthwhile to freeze a bowl of water and place it outside for the animals.
- Never leave animals in parked cars.