In Arizona it doesn’t have to be summer for the temperatures to soar. With the first 100 degree day in Phoenix today, we know the scorching heat is right around the corner. High outdoor temperatures aren’t just an inconvenience; they’re dangerous. Heat is the number one killer weather-related cause of death in Arizona and across the country. In 2013, there were 101 deaths in Arizona due to exposure to excessive natural heat, and on average, 121 people died every year in Arizona from the heat from 2001 to 2013. Preliminary numbers for 2014 show 86 people died of heat-associated causes.
Fortunately, you can protect yourself during extreme heat with a few simple steps – stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay informed. Whenever you can, avoid spending time outside during the warmest hours of the day, usually 10am-4pm. If you do go out, stop frequently at air-conditioned places and cool off.
Drink lots of water, especially if you plan to be out during the hot part of the day. If you know you’re going to be out, start hydrating the night before.
Being alert to the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness is another way to protect yourself and others. You can find more information on preventing, recognizing, and treating heat-related illness here. The Heat Relief Network coordinates hydration stations, refuge locations, and donation sites throughout the Valley. You can visit one of these spots to get relief from the heat. Another way to stay safe is to be informed by signing up to receive heat alert notifications. These alerts will notify you when temperatures are forecasted to be particularly dangerous.
We’ve been working to prepare and protect Arizonans from the dangers of extreme heat and other weather hazards. The Arizona Extreme Weather and Public Health Program Website offers valuable resources and information to help you stay safe during the heat season, including toolkits designed to protect those who may be most vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat, such as older adults, outdoor workers, and school children.
High temperatures are also a reminder to have a plan to make sure you don’t leave anyone in a hot car. Temperatures in cars climb dramatically in the sun. Senior citizens, young children, and pets often cannot help themselves and leave a vehicle when the temperature becomes unbearable.