For those of us that live in the Little Rock District, summertime heat is a constant companion. But lately, things seem to be getting a little worse. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - July of 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded - on Earth. With 2022 coming in hot - literally - and people across the world contending with hotter than normal temperatures, we seem to be on track to have yet another record setting year for heat and heat injuries.
Yet while heat is the number 1 weather-related killer, it's important to remember that it's very possible to prevent injury and death with forethought, planning, and education.
The Department of Health and Human Services breaks the U.S. down into 10 regions. For those of us that live and work in the Little Rock District, we're part of DHHS Region 6 and Region 7. Region 6 is continuously one of the hottest in the nation - followed close behind by Region 7 - which contains the rest of the Little Rock District. Collectively, this part of the U.S. can see hundreds of hospitalizations due to heat related illness.
With nearly two decades of increasingly hot temperatures globally, the Federal Government created www.heat.gov - a new website that hopes to help people and local governments beat the heat.
Heat.gov provides real-time heat information for the entire United States - not just weather and weather outlooks, but also education, planning and preparation. A centralized repository for heat planning and awareness, Heat.gov collects information and tools from various federal agencies including dashboards from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FEMA, and the CDC.
The site has a treasure trove of helpful advice on how to protect workers and recreators from extreme heat. While some of the advice seems simplistic, hospitalizations for heat exhaustion and dehydration continue to affect people across the district. Only through direct supervision and reinforcement of how to manage heat protocols correctly will the effects of long-term heat be managed.
So as summertime temperatures continue to climb to new records, it's important to think more critically about its effects. Not only should you be aware of how hot it is outside, but also how long you plan to be in the heat and aware of any health issues that your friends, family, or coworkers might have that can be made worse by extended exposure to heat.
Through continued situational awareness of heat and its effects we can protect ourselves and those we care about from the effects of high temperatures.