Triple-digit heat indices seem to have been the norm the last few weeks across Central Florida. Even when it hasn’t felt like it's above the century mark, temperatures have been very close to it; so we just round up, right? But if heat is the No. 1 cause of weather-related deaths during the ten'year average (2005-2014), according to the National Weather Service, why isn't Central Florida under an official warning or advisory? The short answer is that we are used to these temperatures.
Each local National Weather Service office issues the official local weather alerts, including the ones dealing with extreme heat. Each office takes into account the climate for its area. For example, a heat index temperature of 100 degrees can trigger a heat advisory for Chicago because people there are simply not used to this type of heat. Some weather offices issue alerts only if extremely high heat indices are expected for a couple days in combination with a warm low temperature overnight.
What is the heat index? It's a single value that considers temperature and relative humidity. Since sweat does not readily evaporate and cool the skin, the higher the heat index, the hotter it feels. This is a much better measurement for outdoor workers or for people who will be exposed to heat because it estimates better the heat-risk one may experience.
HOW DOES IT WORK FOR CENTRAL FLORIDA?
Our local National Weather Service office in Central Florida issues a heat advisory within 12 hours of the onset of heat indices of 108 degrees, this mean you need to take action because extremely dangerous heat indices (at least feels-like temperatures of 108 degrees) are expected.
Know the difference: Heat exhaustion vs. Heatstroke
Locally, an extreme heat watch is issued when conditions are favorable for excessive heat to occur, usually between the following 24-72 hours, but exact timing is still uncertain. This means you need to be prepared because heat indices of at least 113 degrees are possible.
An extreme heat warning means that excessive heat is expected or occurring, and you need to take action. Local heat indices under an excessive heat warning are at least at 113 degrees and may cause a person to become seriously ill or even cause death if safety precautions are not taken.
It is important to note that if you are working outdoors or will be exposed to heat for a prolonged period you may suffer a heat-related illness such as a heat exhaustion or heat stroke. There doesn’t have to be an advisory or warning in place for someone to be dangerously exposed to heat. Everyone is different, and our bodies can handle the heat differently.
Staying hydrated is key. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water, as you are likely already dehydrated by then. Outdoor workings must take break under shade often.
According to @OSHA_DOL there's no standard that covers hot conditions for workers, but the OSH Act dictates that employers must protect workers from hazards at worksite, including heat-related hazards. Here's the guide they must follow:— Irene Sans (@IreneSans) June 25, 2019
*Heat index is a combo of temp & humidity* pic.twitter.com/CcZdakJxPz
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