How hot is too hot?

When the heat index turns dangerous.

Author: Khambrel Marshall, Meteorologist, kmarshall@kprc.com
Published On: Jun 24 2013 05:19:31 PM CDT

High temperatures this week are expected to remain in the mid to upper 90s, several degrees above the expected average high temperature of 92 this time of the year.

While the mid 90s will be bad enough, it is the added heat index that will take the week from uncomfortable toward dangerous.

Often referred to as the “feels like” temperature, the heat index is how hot it “really” feels when the relative humidity is factored in with the actual temperature. For example, with an actual temperature of 94 degrees and a relative humidity of 50%, the heat index or “feels like” temperature will be 103. Any increase in either category takes the heat index higher.

The problem arises when the heat index nears 105 degrees. That's when the human body may have trouble cooling itself in a high humidity atmosphere. The result is the body temperature rises and can trigger a number of heat related illnesses.

--Heat Cramps- Muscle cramps and heavy sweating.

--Heat Exhaustion-Heavy sweating, weak pulse, dizziness, nausea & vomiting, possible fainting.

--Heat Stroke is a severe medical emergency- Body temperature above 106 degrees, dry skin & rapid pulse, confusion, headaches and possible unconsciousness are among the most obvious symptoms.

The National Weather Service will issue Excessive Heat Outlooks, Watches and Warnings if the heat index is expected to be in the 105 to 110 degree range.

Unless and until then, expect uncomfortably hot and humid conditions this week. Drink plenty of water, limit outside activity.

Heat results in hundreds of deaths each year in the United States. Be smart and err on the side of caution when taking precautions for yourself or your children or elders.