Heat, humidity create danger

FAIRMONT – While this weekend will bring a little relief from the heat and humidity, southern Minnesota still has a few more months of hot weather ahead.

“We will see the dew-points fall over the weekend,” said KEYC-TV meteorologist Mark Tarello. “But we could see them creep up again next week.”

Heat waves are dangerous and kill more people in the United States than tornadoes, hurricanes and floods combined.

“We need to use caution when the temperatures get above 90,” Tarello said. “This time of year, we want to look at the dew point, because that’s a better indicator of how humid it is. You hear the old saying, ‘It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,’ but that is what really makes it feel stuffy out there.”

Dew points in the mid-60s signal humid weather; 70 degrees or above means very humid; and 80 degrees or more is considered tropical.

The best bet for relief from these conditions is a place with air-conditioning, and remaining hydrated.

“Water is the best thing,” Tarello said. “Make sure to have lots of non-alcoholic fluids. For outdoor workers, find shade and take breaks as needed … For joggers and people who like to exercise outside, this time of year the best time to do it is before 9 a.m., especially when highs are forecast for the 90s with high humidity. In the evening, wait until after 8:30 p.m.”

For those with homes without air-conditioning, keep the blinds drawn and the fans running. It is also a good idea to go places that have air-conditioning to give your body a break, such as a shopping mall, or going to the local pool to cool off.

“When the temperatures get this high, it becomes more of a health factor,” Tarello said.

Even without high heat and humidity, the summertime sun can turn parked cars into ovens.

“The sun angle this time of year is strong,” Tarello said. “Even temperatures in the 80s with full sunshine can heat up a car quickly and it’s dangerous.”

A dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures of 180 to 200 degrees. Cars can go from a safe to unsafe temperature in less than five minutes. Vehicle owners are urged not to leave children, pets or vulnerable adults alone in a vehicle, even with the windows down.

Getting into a parked vehicle on a hot day, check to make sure seating surfaces and equipment, such as seat belts and child car seats aren’t too hot. Towels or some other protective measure might be needed.

Also, teach children not to play in or around cars. Keep vehicles and trunks locked – even if safe in a garage at home – and keep the keys out of children’s reach.

Finally, always double check to make sure all passengers are out of the vehicle once you have reached your destination. Make sure not to overlook any sleeping infants.

Other heat safety tips include dressing for the summer with lightweight and light-colored clothing, easing off on strenuous activities and avoiding getting sunburned, which makes your body’s attempt to dissipate heat more difficult.

Finally, high heat and humidity can fuel severe weather if a cold front comes through the area.

“We haven’t seen a lot of severe weather this year,” Tarello said. “This time of year, we don’t see days where it rains all day; we usually see sporadic storms pop up that can produce severe weather.”

Even when the forecast hasn’t changed in days, make sure to keep tabs on the forecast for any alerts.