Extreme Heat: Dealing with the Dog Days of Summer

Public Health & Safety

Dangerously hot and humid conditions have continued across the state of Florida this summer, and heat index values have regularly climbed into the triple digits, causing much of the state to be under heat advisories and at a greater risk for heat-related illnesses. The unfortunate reality is that climate models predict that extreme heat will become more frequent and intense as climate change continues.

“Temperatures continue to increase with global warming, and this year is likely to break previous heat records with the help of a strong developing El Nino,” said Lauraleigh Avery, Emergency Manager, Office of Emergency Management, Orange County Fire Rescue Department. “With hotter temperatures, higher heat indexes and no immediate relief in sight, we must continue to educate our citizens on staying well hydrated and avoid being outside for too long during the hottest times of the day.”

With prolonged exposure to extreme heat, your body is more at risk for experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating and weakness. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, symptoms of which include confusion, hot and dry skin with no sweat, a rapid, strong pulse and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not received.

“When the body can’t control its temperature, body temperature rises rapidly, and sweating mechanisms can fail,” explained Avery. “We’re asking residents to remain inside as much as possible and wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight and help the body maintain its temperature. For anyone who must work outside, we recommend they schedule tasks for either earlier in the day or later in the day.”

Extreme heat can be especially dangerous to special groups of people across communities, including lower income households, rural communities, residents in urban heat islands, infants and children, pregnant women, older adults, laborers, individuals with medical conditions and athletes.

“We’re asking residents to check on elderly neighbors or families that may need help during these hotter temperatures,” asks Avery. “Most importantly, don’t leave children, the elderly or pets in a vehicle, as this can quickly cause a heat-related emergency or death. Look before you lock!”

Safety Bulletins are issued to Orange County firefighters and others to ensure County personnel are hydrating prior to and during work hours. For all residents, the message is to remain inside if possible, and for vulnerable residents, visit any of the County’s air-conditioned libraries or community centers, or seek assistance from The Homeless Network, which has created additional space to shelter.

For any heat-related emergencies, call 911 immediately while attempting to cool down the individual in whatever way possible. For additional heat safety tips, visit Florida Disaster or go to #GetSummerReady. For current heat advisories, go to HEAT.gov.

Back To Top