Summer survival

July's arrival means the hottest month of the year is here


Published: Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 1:19 a.m.
As the Florida summer rages on, the heat and humidity deepens, bumping up the heat index to potentially dangerous levels.
The heat index - a combination of heat and humidity calculated to describe how hot the air feels to the body - usually ranges from 95 to 100 this time of year, said Eric Zappe, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. The heat index Wednesday reached 96 with a high temperature of 90 degrees.
When the index starts creeping up to about 105, being outside can become dangerous, Zappe said.
"Any prolonged activity outside can obviously have adverse affects on human beings and pets," he said.
July is the hottest month of the year in North Central Florida, according to National Weather Service data.
High heat can cause muscle cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, Zappe said.
Excessive heat kills about 400 people each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms of heat stroke, which can kill, include a body temperature above 103 degrees; red, hot and dry skin; a rapid, strong pulse; a throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; and confusion or unconsciousness.
The elderly, children and people with heart disease or certain other medical conditions are at greater risk of problems from the heat, according to the CDC. But even young and healthy people can succumb to heat if they work, exercise or play too long outside during hot weather.
Drinking alcohol and taking certain medications also can put a person at greater risk.
Outdoor workers are among those who need to take special care during Florida's blazing hot summer months.
At PPI Construction Management in Gainesville, employees are urged to stay hydrated and use sunblock, Vice President Domenic Scorpio said.
"We advise those folks . . . if it starts getting too hot, take a break, get under a shade tree," Scorpio said.
That echoes the advice the National Weather Service gives.
"We tell people to take it easy," Zappe said.
North Central Florida has reached dangerous heat index levels already this season, Zappe said. Usually they come just before a thunderstorm and last only a couple of hours, he said.
Kathy Ciotola can be reached at (352) 338-3109 or ciotolk@gvillesun.com.

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