High Humidity and Heat in the Beaufort Area
Humidity in the Beaufort, Hilton Head Island, Hunting Island and Parris Island areas can get near 100% during the summer months, usually averaging above 75% during June through September. Although the body adjusts and discomfort decreases over time, the effects on the body remain the same. It's just part of the lifestyle here!
How Humidity Affects the Body
Humidity is a part of living near the coast or really any large body of water. When the lower atmosphere retains more moisture, it is said to be more humid. When the humidity reaches about 80%, the air becomes saturated with moisture and evaporation becomes very difficult. Near 100% and no further evaporation occurs at all. The bodies of all warm blooded creatures, including humans, regulate their core temperature for the most part through evaporation. Couple high humidity with high temperatures and this can cause some very serious problems involving temperature control within the body. When our body temperature rises, we control this by producing sweat. As the sweat evaporates, heat is removed, thus cooling us by lowering internal temperature. When sweat can not evaporate, heat remains and rapidly begins to build. If the activity producing the heat is not stopped or slowed down, body temperatures can rise to the point producing a total system shutdown, also known as "Heat Stroke", which can be fatal.
Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion Stages and Treatment
The first stage, known as "Heat Exhaustion", show symptoms such as excessive sweating, increased breathing, cramps and fatigue. Now is the time to stop and rest. Cool down! Drink cool water, not cold water. If victim becomes dizzy, this is a last sign of Heat Exhaustion. The treatment is to lay supine under shade and run cool water over the torso area and extremities. If signs of shock occur, 911 should be called, as it may be Heat Stroke. When the air feels sticky, muggy and thick, it is at least 85% humid, and that is high humidity. Always take frequent breaks and drink plenty of cool water if working outdoors in high humidity.