Nebraska doctor explains how high heat, humidity can be dangerous

Over the last few days, we’ve been doing all we can to keep cool
We’ve all heard the warnings about excessive heat and how high temperatures can be dangerous.
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 4:54 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - We’ve all heard the warnings about excessive heat and how high temperatures can be dangerous, a Nebraska Medicine doctor says high humidity levels can also mean much more than a bad hair day.

The hot weather has forced many of us to change our daily routines.

“Just trying to get it in before the heat suppose to be pretty hot we’re on a good hot streak so still want to get out and enjoy the outdoors and get some fresh air,” said runner James Trout.

Over the last few days, we’ve been doing all we can to keep cool. We’ve been on a hot streak putting together a string of days with temperatures running in the 90s but the thermometer isn’t the true gauge of how hot it really is outside.

“You gotta factor in several things and that’s why we talk about humidity and dew point because that all factors into what we call the heat index of the feels like temperature, basically it’s saying this is what it’s going to feel like to the human body,” said WOWT Senior Chief Meteorologist Rusty Lord.

High humidity levels do more than affect the feel-like temperatures outside. Dr. Eric Ernest says too much moisture in the air also affects the body’s ability to cool down.

“The idea that the body typically uses sweat in order for evaporative cooling and so if it’s a hot day we start sweating the air blows across our bodies and that causes heat to be released so if you have a high level of humidity in the air that sweat and that evaporative process does work as well as it should,” said Dr. Ernest, Nebraska Medicine.

“Your body feels like it’s a lot hotter out there so when we get a day when it is 95 and the feels like temperature is 105, that 105 is what you want to pay attention to,” said Rusty Lord.

If you’re outside in the hot humid weather and not sweating, doctors say you could be moving into the realm of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Dr. Ernest says there are other signs that indicate you might be having trouble dealing with high temperatures and high humidity.

“I often tell people to take a look at their urine you’re really going for that clear very light yellow that’s a great gauge right off the bat if it’s dark yellow-brown not peeing at all, those are indications you’re dehydrated and you could be in real trouble,” said Dr. Ernest.

Doctors tell us it is important for us to pay attention to the humidity levels as well as the temperature as we make our way through thse periods of high heat.

Doctors say the elderly, very young and those who work outside should always be aware of conditions outside when the temperatures start to climb.

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