Summer means be aware of dangers of heat

While it might not exactly feel like it right now, Memorial Day weekend gave a taste of what summer heat can be like in the region, when temperatures hovered around 90 degrees.

Wisconsin has designated today as Heat Awareness Day in the state, to remind even North Woods residents of the risks of being in dangerously high temperatures.

In the past five years, 39 people have died in Wisconsin and thousands have fallen ill or been hospitalized due to heat-related conditions. The U.S. averages 618 deaths a year from extreme heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The main risk this far north might be to shut-ins who lack someone to check on them and make sure they stay cool enough when a heat wave sets in, experts say. Many victims of heat-related deaths are socially isolated, maintaining little regular contact with family and friends.

“We all need to be aware of this threat and seek to mitigate its impact on those who are at greatest risk,” said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general and Wisconsin’s Homeland Security advisor.

Think we’d never see such temperatures this far north? Well, Marquette managed to reach 104 in 1977. And Houghton soared to 105, though that was in 1936.

And it doesn’t take triple-digit temperatures to create conditions that put people at risk of heat stroke, for example.

The inside of a vehicle can be especially dangerous, with temperatures inside a vehicle able to climb very quickly — as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes. Never leave a child or pet inside a parked car. Leaving a window cracked is not sufficient.

Other safety tips during extreme heat:

— Stay cool: Remain inside air-conditioned buildings as much as possible and avoid direct sunlight.

— Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.

— Stay informed: Pay attention to local weather forecasts and extreme heat alerts.