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Hazards of excessive heat

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Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of
fatalities each year. In fact, on average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

Heat disorders generally have to do with a reduction or collapse of the body’s ability to shed heat by circulatory changes and sweating or a chemical (salt) imbalance caused by too much sweating. When the body heats too quickly to cool itself safely, or when you lose much fluid or salt through dehydration or sweating, your body temperature rises and heat-related illness may develop.

Studies indicate that, other things being equal, the severity of heat disorders tend to increase with age. Conditions that cause heat cramps in a 17-year-old may result in heat exhaustion in someone 40, and heat stroke in a person over 60.

Sunburn, with its ultraviolet radiation burns, can significantly retard the skin’s ability to shed excess heat.

Acclimatization has to do with adjusting sweat-salt concentrations, among other things. The idea is to lose enough water to regulate body temperature, with the least possible chemical disturbance/salt depletion.

--National Weather Service