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VERIFY: Does dry or humid heat really matter when it comes to heat exhaustion?

The age-old debate may never go away, but when it comes to heat, the temperature matters the most.

PHOENIX — The Valley is once again in the middle of another hot streak. Summer temperatures leading to just the latest excessive heat warning in the Valley, with temperatures easily climbing into the triple digits. 

But "at least it's a dry heat," right?

“When it actually comes to suffering heat exhaustion there really isn’t a huge difference in the epidemiological data,” Dr. Natasha Bhuyan with One Medical said. 

Dr. Bhuyan said when it comes to heat and humidity, studies show it's temperature, not humidity, that is the number one factor. 

“Our body reacts the same, it still produces sweat," Dr. Bhuyan said. “Sweating actually cools us down. In the humid heat, it’s harder for sweat to evaporate from our skin. So we feel warmer for longer. In dry heat, the sweat does evaporate but we dehydrate quicker.”

Dr. Bhuyan said the reality is a dry heat can be just as dangerous because people don't feel like they are overheating, even as they are getting more and more dehydrated.

This can allow heat exhaustion to sneak up on people.

“In just a matter of minutes, all of a sudden people may feel dizziness, headaches, fatigue,” Dr. Bhuyan said.

Earlier this year, a dozen firefighters were sent home for heat-related issues after conducting multiple mountain rescues.

Since then, the City of Phoenix has implemented a pilot program closing Piestewa Peak and trails at Camelback Mountain at the hottest times of the day to cut down on heat exhaustion.

Still, last month a 31-year-old woman died hiking Camelback Mountain. 

According to Maricopa County, there were 323 heat-related deaths last year. While many of those were indoors, it shows how deadly the heat can be.

"The bottom line is people need to take high temperatures seriously whether you are in a dry climate or a humid climate,” Dr. Bhuyan said.

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