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How can I stay safe on days with extreme humidity?

How to deal with the added risks of breathing trouble, hyperthermia and mold.

Athletic man outside drinking water

Hot temperatures and high humidity levels may affect some areas year-round, but other areas may experience humidity starting in the spring and summer. Aside from possible damage to your home from expansion, rot and mold, the increased moisture in the air can threaten your health.

Here's what to know about the dangers of humidity and humidity safety.

What are the health risks?

Breathing: According to Healthline, humid air is harder to breathe which can aggravate breathing conditions such as asthma. Humidity may also trap pollutants such as mold, dust and dust mites. You can prevent mold by keeping your indoor humidity between 30% and 50%, and taking other steps to reduce moisture and prevent it from developing in the first place.

Viruses: Recent research indicates that humidity doesn't hinder the ability of viruses, like the flu, to infect people, according to Health 24.

Hyperthermia: When high heat and humidity combine, your risk of hyperthermia increases. Hyperthermia is a term describing a situation when your body temperature becomes too high. Sweat cannot evaporate as quickly in humid weather, leaving you feeling hotter and your health more at risk. Hyperthermia has many stages and conditions:

  • Heat stress,
  • Heat fatigue,
  • Heat syncope,
  • Heat cramps,
  • Heat edema,
  • Heat rash, and
  • Heat exhaustion.

What can you do?

Inside: A dehumidifier can help pull moisture out of your home and improve air quality. Sealing air leaks and adding external vents to your stove and dryer also will help reduce humidity. Another common source of moisture in the home is the basement. For more ideas on humidity reduction, read How to Help Conquer Home Humidity.

Outdoors: Check the dew point rather than the humidity level. If the dew point is in the 60s or 70s, you'll likely have a hard time cooling off. To avoid heat-related illness, limit your time outside, stay in the shade whenever possible and wear breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen.

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