Arizona’s hot summer days are affecting school schedules. August of 2015 had more days of record breaking heat than any year, making it the hottest in history. In addition, August is a monsoon month in Arizona. During the monsoons, Tucson Schools often have “Rainy Day” schedules, when students do not go out and play at recess. This year, the weather has been hot enough (105-115) to warrant “Sunny Day” schedules, when students play inside rather than out in the sun. Parents supervising their children after school and week ends should know the danger signs, and aid for heat exhaustion. Children should be taught to recognize heat exhaustion and have a safety plan.
The rumors that a dry heat is not as bad, are true. If the humidity is 0%, then you can usually survive 105 degrees. But remember to drink lots of water. When the humidity rises to 30%, then temperatures in the low 90 degrees become dangerous. Charts of the heat/humidity ratio gives a warning based on this index. It is important to remember, 105 on the index is reached at a lower temperature on humid days.
90-104 Heat cramps or heat exhaustion possible. 105-130 Heat cramps or heat exhaustion likely, heat stroke possible. 130 and more Heat stroke highly likely
Watching the environment, can indicate the humidity. If the mountains look muted and “fuzzy”, and you know there is no dust storm – it is very humid. If there are clouds covering the sky – it is humid. Even if you have a blue sky with fluffy nimbus clouds forming over the mountains – it is humid.
Know the symptoms and solutions. Symptoms of heat exhaustion are: heavy sweating – often with clammy skin, dizziness, feeling weak and/or confused, nausea, headache, fast heartbeat, and dark urine (an indication of dehydration). If you suspect heat exhaustion, cool off in an air conditioned house or under some shade. Drink lots of water or juice. Do Not Drink Sodas or Alcohol – it will increase your body heat. Use damp towels or cool showers. Rest at least 12 hours.
Jumping into pools or lakes is not recommended, as it can cause cramps, and the person can drown.
You may think that you only have to worry about heat exhaustion if you are hiking out in the hills or desert. Not so. Cities actually are urban ‘heat islands’, where pavement and buildings absorb more heat, making them dangerously hot. Riding bikes, running, and active play on a hot day, can cause heat exhaustion. This explains the Tucson school’s decision to have Sunny Day Schedules this year.
Columbia University studies on Urban “heat islands” discusses methods cities are using to reduce this heat. Attempted alternatives, although interesting, may not prove as helpful as hoped for.
Hot, humid days are even more dangerous than our usual dry hot days. Watch your children at home or while camping, picnicking, walking or hiking.
Rules for hiking apply to playing actively at home or in the neighborhood. It requires instruction and preparation: Drink lots of water. Wear a head covering, and loose, cotton clothing. Stop in the shade if you get tired or weak. In a group? Send a friend for help. If you are active and alone, carry a cell phone to call home. If you cannot reach home, try 911. Wait in the shade, rest, and walk in the early evening.
Once you have suffered from heat exhaustion, you increase the likelihood of causing it again. Heat stroke probability also increases.
Remember, If you feel the symptoms:
Stop immediately, seek shade and rest.
Contact someone who can pick you up in a car, or call 911.
Drink water or juice.
Teach your children the rules for being active in the heat, whether hiking or riding down the street. It may save them a very sick few days, or even a life.