Disasters and Emergencies
In Iowa, it gets hot in the summertime. Sometimes, very hot. Doing too much on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses. 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. Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States.
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.
The best defense against heat-related illnesses is prevention. You can be prepared by knowing the symptoms of heat disorders and overexposure to the sun, and being ready to give first aid treatment.
Each year, several children die from hyperthermia. According to the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University, at least 30children in the U.S. died of hyperthermia in 2014, after being left in parked vehicles. And since 1998, 640 children have died from hyperthermia from being left in parked cars.
Children and Cars: A Lethal Combination
Hyperthermia is an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day. Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, adults and pets. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.
Summer Vehicle Safety Tips
- Make sure your child’s safety seat and safety belt buckles aren’t too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.
- Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.
- Teach children not to play in, on or around cars.
- Always lock car doors and trunks – even at home – and keep keys out of children’s reach.
- Always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination. Don’t ever leave sleeping infants in the car!
Know what to do before, during, and after a heat wave.
Iowa disaster history
Heatwave of July 1936
The month of July 1936, during the “Dust Bowl”, produced one of the hottest summers on record across the U.S., especially the Plains, Upper Midwest, and Great Lakes regions. The heat was accentuated due to a prolonged drought that was affecting the region, and poor farming methods which left little vegetation to help mitigate the scorching temperatures. Des Moines endured a stretch of 15 consecutive days where temperatures were over 100 degrees. On July 15th, the average high for all 113 weather stations in Iowa measured 108.7. It is still the hottest month and the hottest summer in Iowa’s history. When the heat finally broke, more than 5,000 people had died, hundreds right here in Iowa.
Video credit: FOX 28 News, Cedar Rapids