During the summertime, heat waves can bring unusually high temperatures (10 degrees or more above the average high temperature) that last for days or weeks.
Extreme heat pushes your body beyond its normal limits. Under normal circumstances your internal thermostat sends signals to make you sweat. The sweat evaporates and cools your body.
However, extreme heat causes the evaporation process to slow and the body to work harder to maintain a normal temperature.
These conditions can overload your system and lead to heat-related illness and even death. Heat kills more people in the U.S. than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined, according to the National Weather Service.
People at greatest risk of experiencing heat-related illness:
Older people 65 years old or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and respond to change in temperature.
Infants and children up to 4 years old are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.
People who are overweight may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat.
People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, may be affected by extreme heat.
People who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation, may be affected by extreme heat.
People who overexert themselves may become dehydrated and susceptible to heat sickness. Take caution if you work outdoors, exercise outside or use drugs or alcohol.
Visit the National Weather Service website at www.weather.gov for excessive heat warnings in Las Vegas and surrounding communities.
People living in urban areas may be at a greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than people living in rural regions.
Stagnant atmospheric conditions trap pollutants in urban areas, which add contaminated air to excessive hot temperatures.
Because men sweat more than women, men are more susceptible to heat illness because they become dehydrated more quickly.
Your best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Staying cool and making simple changes in your fluid intake, activities and clothing during hot weather can help you remain safe and healthy.