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Emergency Preparation in Tompkins County, New York

 

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The sun. Image by the SOHO spacecraft, on Space.com

Heat-related Emergencies

In the past:

A number of emergencies are related to extreme heat, especially blackouts ( when power plants are overloaded by air conditioner use), and health problems like heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Extreme heat, or a heat wave, is generally defined as a "prolonged period of excessive heat." More specifically, if temperatures hover 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for a period of at least three days, it's a heat wave. Heat waves are also usually accompanied by high humidity.

The "heat index" is an estimate of the temperature the body feels due to the combined effects of heat and humidity. Direct sunlight can raise the heat index up by 15 degrees.

Risk to Tompkins County residents:

Tompkins County has not had a major heat wave recently, but this does not mean we never will. Extreme heat is always a possibility, anywhere in the world. For instance, on average, 1,000 people die from heat each year. In the 1995 July heat wave that hit Chicago, over 700 people died from heat.

Measuring extreme heat and "heat wave" depends on where you live. "Extreme heat" in the Alaskan tundra would probably register as "unusually cold" in the Arizona desert. In Tompkins County's summer, an extreme heat incident would need to be temperatures well into the 90-100 degree (F) range -- and staying there -- for more than a few days.

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are three serious health risks related to heat:

How to prepare:

Additional Resources

National Disaster Education Coalition - Guide to heat-related safety and preparation.

American Red Cross - advice on extreme heat.

FEMA - Extreme Heat

            - Are you ready?

            - During a Heat Emergency

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