Heat index, heat advisory, and heat stroke. What does it all mean?

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- We're no stranger to the heat and the humidity during the summer in the Wiregrass. Highs normally top out in the 90s with an occasional 100 along the way.

Parts of 13 states on Monday will be under heat advisories, from Texas, Louisiana and Florida in the South to Missouri and Illinois in the Midwest, the National Weather Service reported. (MGN Image)

But when the heat really takes an increase in intensity, it can really have a negative effect on our bodies.

Many National Weather Service offices have placed most of the south and the southeast, including the Wiregrass, under a heat advisory. Heat advisories are issued when the heat index is forecasted to be between 105 and 115 degrees for less than three hours per day.

The heat index is a combination of the actual outdoor temperature and the relative humidity. Basically, the higher the temperature and the higher the relative humidity, the higher the heat index will be.

it doesn't take much before high heat indices start taking a toll on our bodies. As temperatures begin to rise, our bodies begin to produce sweat. When the relative humidity is low, the sweat evaporates and cools us off. However, when the relative humidity is high the sweat can't evaporate as much. We don't get the complete cooling effects that we should get.

When our bodies can't cool off efficiently, the chance for heat exhaustion and heat stroke increases. It's important to understand the differences between the two. They have different symptoms, and different actions need to be taken for each.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excessive sweating with cool and clammy skin. People experiencing heat exhaustion should be moved indoors to an air conditioned room, or into a cool shower.

Symptoms of heat stroke include no sweating with red, hot, and dry skin. If you notice someone with heat stroke symptoms. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

The best way to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke is to simply stay indoors during the middle of the day. If you do have to be outside during those times, stay hydrated and take plenty of breaks to cool off.