Experts warn of potential health risks from prolonged heat and sun exposure

Posted at 9:28 AM, Jul 16, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — This week Omaha is expected to reach high temperatures, and some people can find themselves in unsafe conditions if they are not prepared for the heat.

Children and pets playing outside, and even adults working outdoors, could all be at risk for a heat stroke or heat related injuries.

The National Weather Service wants to make sure people are prepared for the high temperatures. They told 3 News Now that it may feel hotter than what is displayed on the thermometer.

The heat is intensified by humidity, which in turn, raises the heat index. The heat index is what the temperature actually feels like.

"Once you start getting into the 90s and have a decent amount of moisture, you can get heat indexes into the lower hundreds easily," Pathways Meteorologist Dirk Petersen says. He says heat related injuries can occur in temperatures as low as 80-degrees and a heat index in the 90's.

People who work outside may find themselves wanting to take extra measures to protect themselves from the heat. The NWS advises people who have to be outdoors for long periods of time to stay hydrated, take lots of breaks, wear loose fitted clothing and apply sunscreen.

The NWS stresses that people should stay indoors as much as they can, and keep their pets under cool air. Pets are even more at risk because they don't know how to ask for help when they need it.

"You want to make sure you keep your pets hydrated. Don't leave them out in cars at all," says Petersen. "You want to make sure that when they're outside, you don't leave them out there for long periods of time."

Cars reach extremely unsafe temperatures in a matter of minutes, which can result in severe injury or death in the worst cases.

Meteorologist Katie Gross says that a really important part of her job is informing the public on how to stay safe in extreme conditions. "You can give them the forecast, that's one thing, but if they don't know what to do with it thats not going to be very useful," Gross added.

For more information visit the National Weather Service website.