TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It's starting to feel a lot like summer with our rising temps.
In fact, the National Weather Service says last year was the hottest on record for Arizona. With the forecasts showing this summer including extended heat, KGUN9 asked Northwest Fire how to stay safe as we kick off H.E.A.T. Awareness Week.
"The reason why H.E.A.T. week is so early in the year and early in the summer is people have kind of had a taste of the heat. It's only going to get worse from here," says firefighters.
Experts say heat kills more people than tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and lightning combined.
In 2020, the Arizona Department of Health Services says Arizona say more than 2,400 heat-related emergency department visits. There were also 520 deaths, which is a record.
Northwest Fire says this summer could pose a different challenge.
"Over the past year a lot of us have spent a lot more time indoors, which indoors is a lot more comfortable. We have our air conditioning, it's a lot cooler so you might not have the same abilities that you had had before COVID. So, that's one way in which just the lockdown from the last year may affect people that were normally active who want to start getting active again."
But there are ways to keep you and your loved ones safe. That's why experts are raising awareness using the word "heat" -- Hydrate, Environment/Weather, Awarness and Take Action.
"Dressing appropriately is incredibly important. Appropriate colors, lighter colors are better for the heat as opposed to dark colors.
Wearing hats, protecting yourself from the sun, sunscreen is incredibly important here in Tucson and also bringing enough water. Knowing that, taking the time to know how much water you need for a specific hike and that's where that you know learning your own limits and learning what you need to do is incredibly important before you venture out somewhere in which you're going to need to get rescued."
But even taking these precautions, firefighters say it's best to know the warning signs to get help as soon as you can.
"One of the warning signs with having heat exhaustion is you're overly thirsty, you're more tired than you normally are. If it's a trail that you know that you've hiked before, if you're feeling more tired you are more tired. It could just be that the heat's getting you differently today than it was last time you were on the trail," says Northwest Fire. "One of the more serious signs of like heat stroke would be it's incredibly hot outside but you have stopped sweating. That's actually a very bad thing."
Northwest Fire says when this happens, turn around and get back to your safety zone or call 9-1-1 for help.
Something you may find helfpful, ways to be able to stay cool even if you are in a financial bind. There is help available. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps pay for energy bills. You can find out how to apply by clicking here.