Georgia officials raise health concerns over heat wave – WABE
The heat wave that has settled over Atlanta and much of the rest of the country is expected to continue throughout the week.
Georgia authorities are warning people to be aware of the dangers of heat, which is a leading weather-related cause of death in the United States, according to the National Weather Service.
At the Georgia Department of Public Health’s board meeting on Tuesday, Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said she was concerned about the hospital’s capacity.
“There’s just an extraordinary health impact of this kind of weather after what’s been a relatively mild spring,” she said. “It also has a significant impact on our hospitals when you have this number of people coming in with heat-related complications.”
Those most exposed to heat are the elderly, infants and children, people with chronic illnesses or pregnant women, outdoor workers and low-income people who do not have – or cannot allow to operate – an air conditioner.
Health officials recommend people familiarize themselves with the symptoms of heat illness and check on neighbors and other vulnerable people.
Climate change is making heat waves more frequent and intense. The average summer temperature in Atlanta is nearly three degrees warmer today than it was 50 years ago, according to the nonprofit Climate Central.
The nights also get warmer here, which is dangerous because the cooler nights are usually when people’s bodies are recovering from very hot days.
The urban heat island effect aggravates the effects of global warming. The concrete and buildings in cities make them hotter, and neighborhoods without tree cover — often the poorest neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color — are usually the hottest.
On Tuesday, Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, drew attention to heat waves occurring in the United States and other parts of the world.
“Of all weather-related disasters, heat waves are one of the deadliest facing humanity,” he said. “I call heat waves the silent killers of climate change because their devastation is hidden, unlike a flood or a big storm, and the victims are vastly underestimated.”
Victims are also often preventable.
The Georgia Department of Public Health shares these tips on how to stay safe in the heat:
- Wear bright, loose clothing
- Stay in AC as much as possible. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, visit a friend who does, or go to the mall or the library or wherever it’s cool. Even a few hours in the air conditioning can give you time to recover before returning to the heat.
- Electric fans help – to a point. Once it exceeds 90 degrees, a cool bath or shower is best.
- Do not leave any human beings or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked. Call 911 if you see someone locked in a hot car.
- Avoid using appliances that can make your home hotter, such as the oven or stove.
- If possible, limit your outdoor activity to the morning and evening.
- Reduce your physical activity, take more breaks and stay hydrated.
- When outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and SPF-15 or higher sunscreen.
- Drink plenty of water even before you feel thirsty
- Check people who work in extreme heat or who are vulnerable to heat-related illnesses at least twice a day.
- If you have pets outdoors, make sure they have access to cool water and shade. Shade from tarps or trees is best; a doghouse can make the heat worse, as it restricts airflow.