By now you know that the National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for the area, with heat indexes climbing as high as 110 degrees this week.
Have you ever wondered how the National Weather Service derives the Heat Index number? Here is an explanation, and this is a better look at the chart. Finally, if you'd like to keep up with the official conditions on an hourly basis, here are the NWS readings.
It's critical to find ways to cope with this extreme weather. Between 1982 and 2010, 116 people have died in Wisconsin directly as the result of heat. Fifty of those were in Milwaukee County. A complete chart is here.
The NWS also offers plenty of tips for dealing with the heat. Among them: Eat frequent, small meals and avoid high-protein foods which increase metabolic heat.
The City of Milwaukee Health Department has aggregated an excellent web page that includes places in the city to go to stay cool and other tips.
If you rely on fans, use them to blow hot air out of the open window, rather than sucking the heat from outside and into your residence. It's one of a number of useful tips and contact phone numbers, also compiled by the City of Milwaukee Health Department.
The elderly must take extra precautions in the hot weather. Those who are low-salt diets should consult their physician before drinking sports drinks such as Gatorade. This article from the Medical University of South Carolina discusses considerations.
If you'd like to hit the beach today, first visit this site to see what's open. Milwaukee's popular Bradford Beach has a "caution" advisory due to heightened risk for E.coli.
You obviously need plenty of fluids, but avoid sugary drinks like soda, and also watch out for coffee. Alcohol, sugar and caffeine all have a dehydrating effect. RealSimple magazine provides more useful tips for staying cool.
Pets also are susceptible to heat-related problems. The Wisconsin Humane Society shares these common-sense tips for keeping pets cool. Key among them is to never leave your pets alone in a parked car. The temperature can climb to 160 or more in minutes.
Perhaps beating the heat is not your concern; you're fully air-conditioned and well-versed in proper practices. What you really are looking for is a way to avoid having wine go bad in the extreme conditions. Here are some tips to that end.