Skip to main content

Hot Weather Advice for the Young

It’s not just the elderly who need to watch out during a summer heat wave. Penn State researchers are investigating the limits for the young and healthy.

Young woman pours a bottle of water on her head.

Heat is a hot research topic right now as the United Kingdom, parts of Europe and much of the United States sweats, sizzles and bakes.

Several large media outlets have recently featured research from Penn State University about how much heat and humidity a human being can take. While attention is rightly focused on the elderly during exceptionally hot weather, it turns out that even young, healthy people are at risk when the temperatures soar.

Previously, experts thought the danger zone temperature was 95°F at 100% humidity or 115°F at 50% humidity, a measurement that researchers record as a “wet-bulb temperature” of 35°C. Hot weather becomes dangerous when the body can no longer regulate its temperature by sweating. But research published earlier this year found the maximum temperature even younger people can tolerate was lower.

“Our results suggest that in humid parts of the world, we should start to get concerned — even about young, healthy people — when it's above 31 degrees wet-bulb temperature (88 degrees Fahrenheit with 100% humidity),” Kenney said in a Penn State research news release. “As we continue our research, we’re going to explore what that number is in older adults, as it will probably be even lower than that.”

Read more about the PSU research findings:

The Philadelphia Inquirer