07 Jun Heat: Mother Nature’s Most Dangerous Killer
Did you know that heat causes more fatilities per year than floods, tornadoes, lightning, and hurricanes combined? Based on a 10-year average from 1994-2003, heat killed an average of 237 people each year. By contrast, floods killed 84; tornadoes, 58; lightning, 63; and hurricanes, 18. Heat waves can be extremely devastating to the area they hit. For example, the 1995 heat wave that hit the Chicago, IL area killed over 700 people and the disastrous European heat wave of 2003 claimed an estimated 50,000 lives.
But what makes heat so hazardous? When heat gain exceeds the level the body can remove, or when the body cannot compensate for fluids and salt lost through perspiration, the temperature of the body’s inner core begins to rise and heat-related illness may develop. Heat disorders can range in severity often in relation to health and age, but the one common feature is that the individual has either been overexposed or overexercised for the current thermal condition.
Experts say there are a number of things you can do to keep yourself safe in the heat. One important thing to remember is to never leave children, disabled people or pets in a parked car, even briefly. Each year children die from hyperthermia as a result of being left enclosed in parked vehicles. Hyperthermia is an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. This can occur even on a mild day. Leaving the windows slightly down is not a solution, cars heat too quickly for cracked windows to help.
The following are some examples of what can happen if you leave a child in a parked car for an extended time, even on a mild day.
- Hawaii, March 07, 2007: A 3 year old girl from Honolulu died from hyperthermia. The child’s father told police that he left her in a child seat in the back seat of the car for an hour and a half late Saturday morning while he visited friends in a Makiki apartment building. The outside temperature was only 81 degrees.
- North Augusta, SC; April 2006: A mother left her 15 month old son locked in a car. He was left in the car for 9 hours while his mom went to work. She is currently serving a 20 year prison sentence.
- Denver Aug 2008: Two kids that died in an overheated car may have been on their own for more than 3 hours as their mother slept after working a night shift. The kids died in a closed but unlocked car, investigators believe the temperature where the children were found may have reached 123 degrees.
Source: National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office
Other ways to keep yourself safe include keeping your living space cool, limiting physical activity, drinking water, or taking a cool bath or shower. Those most at risk to heat-related illness include older adults, infants, and young children, along with those who are disabled or overweight. People who work outdoors, or have chronic heart and lung problems are also at increased risk.
For more information on protecting yourself from the extreme heat of summer, visit the National Weather Service Forecast Office website. To get more information on North Carolina insurance for all your summer fun visit the Spivey Insurance Group website or call 877-318-5951 to talk to one of our friendly agents!