Temperatures are hitting dangerously high levels and the risk of heat-related illness are going up.
At Florida Gulf Coast University, students are doubling up on water for their trek to summer classes.
“My secret is to pack to cold water bottles, put one in the freezer and bring a towel,” Kaylee Sands said, a student at FGCU.
“Trying to stay in the shade. At least drinking two bottles of water like she said, and having an umbrella on hand,” Kaylin Sands said.
‘The danger zone’
According to Doctor Tod Winslow with Student Health Services, the heat danger is clear and present.
“Whenever the humidity goes above 60-70%, evaporation doesn’t occur as quickly off your skin. And your body loses that ability to regulate its temperature,” Winslow said.
The human body uses sweat to cool down. The heat index combines temperature and humidity. Temperatures in the 80-90 range are the beginning of the danger zone.
This can trigger a hierarchy of heat-related illnesses.
The mildest is heat cramps. The second level is heat exhaustion and symptoms are more serious.
“You start experiencing fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness when you stand up, and you feel like you may pass out or see black spots,” Winslow said, “if you find yourself sweating profusely, and then you suddenly stop sweating and feel excessively hot and look at your skin and it’s red in color.”
The most severe level is life-threatening heat stroke.
“That’s whenever body organs can be damaged. And that’s whenever the body core temperature gets to 104 degrees or higher,” Winslow said.
It’s very possible to go from hot to overheated almost without notice. WINK News did an experiment with a thermometer. The thermometer was started inside, reading 70 degrees. Then it was placed outside on the pavement for 10 minutes.
In 10 minutes, the thermometer went up 30 degrees to 110.
In an enclosed space, it can happen faster.
“Some people can be as quick as 30 minutes or an hour out in the excessive heat,” Winslow said.
The heat is especially dangerous for babies and young children, including older citizens who can’t regulate their body temperature.
If you have to be outside, look for shady spots and carry an ice pack or cooling device.