Heat Advisories and Your Health

Heat advisory warnings are provided by the Weather Service when the heat index is high enough to affect human health. The heat index is a calculation based on the temperature outside and the humidity. It is a measure of how hot the air feels. Heat advisories are warnings that let us know extreme heat is on the way.

Check out the official HeatIndex Calculator.

Our bodies keep cool by perspiring. The moisture evaporates in the air and cools us off. When the humidity is high, that moisture can’t evaporate and we can’t keep our bodies cool as easily.  Exercising outside in extreme heat can cause us to overheat, and can lead to illness or even death. 

For Arkansas, a heat index of 105 degrees will trigger heat advisories. An excessive heat watch is issued when a heat index of 110 degrees is possible within the next few days. An excessive heat warning means that the heat index is expected to reach 110 degrees. As a rule of thumb, you should be prepared when an excessive heat watch is called. You should take action when an excessive heat warning is issued. 

Health effects

Records show that emergency room visits increase when the heat index is high enough to call for heat advisories. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke become more likely. 

Remember that babies and small children haven’t developed the ability to regulate their temperatures as well as adults. Make extra efforts to keep little ones cool in extreme heat. 

Check on elderly relatives and neighbors, too. Overweight individuals may be at a greater risk, and pregnant women may also be affected more than most. Keep animals indoors, and certainly never leave a dog in a parked car.

Take precautions

  • Postpone outdoor exercise. Consider staying indoors, in an air-conditioned space.
  • Reschedule outdoor physical work.
  • If you must be outside in the heat, stay in the shade.
  • Drink more water and avoid sugary drinks, alcohol, and caffeine. 
  • Wear loose, light-colored clothing.
  • Avoid using your oven to help keep the temperature down in your house.
  • Take cool showers or baths to help keep your temperature low.

If you need help with cooling costs, contact Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).