As we officially enter the summer months, temperatures in South Florida have been hotter than normal with no end in sight. In Coastal Palm Beach County, temperatures may break the 90-degree mark, and if the heat streak continues, it could be the longest hot stretch this year. In 2015, the highest temperature documented in West Palm Beach was 96 degrees on April 26th.
South Florida is lucky enough to have its sea breeze, which keeps temperatures below 100 degrees. In fact, West Palm Beach has only hit 100 degrees or higher twice - once in 1921, and once in 1942, when the record was set at 101 degrees.
With the summer only officially beginning on June 21, we have a couple months to work on keeping cool, regardless where in the United States you are. Extreme heat caused 7,415 heat-related deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2010. Personal factors such as age, obesity, heart disease, and dehydration, as well as high humidity are two of the main things that affect your body’s ability to cool down in the heat. For those who are at high risk for heat-related illness, some tips for keeping cool are:
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.
- Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device during an extreme heat event.
- Drink more water than usual.
- Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
- Don't use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
Even if you are young and may not be at high risk, there are preventative measures you can ake to avoid heat-related sickness in the summer:
- Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
- Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
- Pace activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can cause dehydration.
Make sure to stay hydrated and good luck keeping cool this summer!