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Do you know what today is?

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Greg Peck
June 13, 2013

I didn’t know that today is Wisconsin Heat Awareness Day until I read about it in a news release from Wisconsin Emergency Management.

We might not have to worry about heat today. The high is expected in the mid-70s around here, after rising into the 80s Wednesday. But as longtime residents of southern Wisconsin know, we’re only starting the hot, sticky season.

Because heat can kill, Wisconsin Emergency Management and the National Weather Service are using this day to remind people of dangers associated with extreme heat. They say that in 2012, Wisconsin had 24 heat-related deaths. Most occurred during the five days of Excessive Heat Warnings last July 2-6. It marked the second-hottest and third-longest heat wave in state history. None of the victims, the organizations say, had air conditioning, nor did they seek shelter in the cooling centers that opened around the state.

Two massive heat waves in 1995 resulted in 154 heat-related deaths.

The past 50 years, heat waves have killed more people than tornadoes, severe storms and floods combined, the news release says.

We can only hope this summer doesn’t repeat the excessive, oppressive heat of last year. But if and when the next heat wave strikes, the emergency management and weather service folks remind us that people at high risk of heat-related illnesses include:

--Older adults.

--Infants and young children.

--People with chronic heart or lung problems.

--People with disabilities.

--Overweight people.

--Those who work outdoors or in hot settings.

--Those on medicines, especially those taken for mental disorders, movement disorder, allergies, depression and heart or circulatory problems.

--People who are socially isolated and don’t know when or how to cool off—or when to call for help.

Keep these people in mind and perhaps offer a cool place to stay when that heat wave hits. And though the news release didn’t suggest it, don’t forget that young children and pets can quickly be overcome by heat that builds rapidly inside locked vehicles, particularly when you park in sunshine.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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