Park County is in the midst of what passes for a heat wave in this part of the state, with nearly a week of temps creeping into the 90s.
This weekend may provide some respite, with Sunday’s AccuWeather forecast projecting temps in the upper 70s to low 80s for the Big Horn Basin. That said, temperatures don’t necessarily have to flirt with triple digits to adversely affect your health. According to weather fatality statistics provided by the National Weather Service, excessive heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States. Add to that even more cases of heat-related illnesses, and Wyoming’s heat wave, while relatively short, may prove to be more dangerous than one might think.
Not surprisingly, children, pets and the elderly are at the greatest risk of heat-related illness, especially when left in unattended vehicles. There have been 21 child vehicular heat stroke deaths nationally so far in 2018, according to the National Weather Service website, with the first case reported in February. On a hot summer day, or even a warm one, temps inside an enclosed vehicle can easily surpass triple digits, and in a very short amount of time. Never leave a child, pet or elderly or disabled person in an unattended vehicle, if even for a few minutes. And we would encourage you, if you see a child or a pet left unattended on a hot day, to call the authorities. In a town the size of Powell, response time would be almost immediate.
But unattended vehicles are not the only culprit of heat-related illnesses. With the weekend approaching, Wyomingites across the state will be participating in any number of outdoor activities, from venturing into Yellowstone, boating on lakes and rivers and just tinkering around the home, tending to gardening or yard work. It’s important on days where the mercury rises to make sure to schedule periodic breaks indoors, as well as stay properly hydrated. While it would be unrealistic to expect folks outside not to enjoy an ice-cold Coke or an adult beverage or two, don’t let it be the only thing you drink. Reschedule any strenuous activities for cooler parts of the day, and wear lightweight, loose-fitting light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight. And don’t be afraid to take a cool bath or shower at the end of the day to lower your body temperature. Hot and humid weather challenges the body’s ability to cool itself, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, increasing the risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Finally, for those without air conditioning or if the unit is on the fritz, don’t take chances if your swamp coolers or oscillating fans aren’t doing the trick. Find a friend or loved one with AC to spend some time with to beat the heat. And be a good neighbor — don’t forget to check on elderly friends or family members, especially those who live alone.
Wyoming’s heat wave won’t last long, but while it’s here, please take the proper precautions to protect yourself and those you love. Enjoy the rest of summer!