ASHWAUBENON - With warm, humid air in place across Northeast Wisconsin, you've probably heard the term "heat index" more than a few times.
What exactly is it?
To answer that question, you need to consider how the body responds to being too warm.
The human body will perspire, or sweat, and when that sweat evaporates from the skin, it takes heat and energy away from the skin, cooling you off.
However, when humid air is in place with high dew points and elevated relative humidities, it won't evaporate water very effectively; it already has a lot of water vapor in it.
As a result, sweat won't evaporate very well, and so your body cannot effectively cool itself off.
Because of this, your body will react to a hot, humid in a way consistent with temperatures that are higher than the actual air temperature.
With temperatures near 90 and relative humidities in the 50-60 percent range, the heat index will push into the upper 90s on Tuesday, putting us in the "Extreme Caution" category.
At this point, prolonged or over-exposure could possibly lead to sunstroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion.
But as temperatures rise into the low 90s, it's possible that heat indices could exceed 100°, putting us in the "Danger" category.
At this point, prolonged or over-exposure will likely result in sunstroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion and could possibly lead to heat stroke which can be fatal.
To combat this, limit exposure to the outdoors during the hottest parts of the day, stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, wear loose-fitting light-colored clothing, and try to have an air conditioned place where you can cool down.
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