JACKSONVILLE — The heat is on, and Cherokee County residents are reminded to use precautions to ensure they get through summer without putting their health – or their pets' – at risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to prepare for extreme heat this summer by staying cool, hydrated, and informed.
“No one should die from a heat wave, but every year on average, extreme heat causes 658 deaths in the United States – more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined,” said Robin Ikeda, acting director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Taking common sense steps in extreme temperatures can prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths.”
According to Jacksonville Fire Chief Brett Smith, when temperatures begin rising, his department starts seeing an increase in heat-related emergencies.
“It's because people are not conditioned for it – they don't hydrate enough to account for their fluid loss when it's hotter,” he said. “We need to be aware of our surroundings, and understand that when we realize we're in trouble, often it's too late to do something about it. So we need to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us, whether it's at work or at play.”
Extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage, even death, states the CDC website, which points out that heat-related illnesses occur when a person's body is are unable to compensate and cool themselves properly.
According to the oganization's Environmental Tracking Network from 1999 to 2009 three states, Arizona, California, and Texas accounted for approximately 40 percent of all heat-related deaths in the United States. Across the nation, heat-related deaths occur more frequently among males and among adults aged 65 and older.
The elderly, children, the poor or homeless, persons who work or exercise outdoors and those with chronic medical conditions are most at risk, the CDC site added.