Summer?s oppressive heat can take a toll on people

From 1999-2003, 3,442 deaths nationwide were caused by exposure to extreme heat, an annual average of 688.

Of those for whom age information was available, seven percent were younger than 15, 53 percent were between 15-64 years old, and 40 percent were 65 years or older.

With current weather forecasts indicating temperatures near triple digits accompanied by high heat indexes, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management is urging Kansans to use caution and common sense when venturing outside.

Similar in nature to the winter wind chill factor, the heat index?given in degrees Fahrenheit?is an accurate measurement of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature.

A heat index of 105 to 130 degrees means prolonged exposure or physical activity may result in sunstroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

As conditions warrant, each National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office may issue the following heat-related outlook, watch, or warning for their forecast area:

? Excessive heat outlook: Issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next three to seven days. An outlook provides information to those who need considerable lead time to prepare for the event, such as public utilities, emergency management and public health officials.

? Excessive heat watch: Issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 12 to 48 hours. A watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased, but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain.

A watch provides enough lead time so those who need to prepare can do so, such as cities who have excessive heat event mitigation plans.

? Excessive heat warning /advisory. Issued when an excessive heat event is expected in the next 36 hours. These products are issued when an excessive heat event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring.

The warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property. An advisory is for less serious conditions that cause significant discomfort or inconvenience and, if caution is not taken, could lead to a threat to life and/or property.

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