Highs are expected to reach the mid-90s today, while the heat index is expected to be between 107 and 112 degrees with more of the same expected through Friday.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s web site, exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.
What that means for the body is the possibility of everything from heat cramps to death if proper precautions are not taken.
Heat cramps are the least severe of heat-related illnesses, but they are often the first signal that the body is in trouble. They present as muscle spasms, usually in the legs and abdomen.
To treat, get the victim to a cooler location, lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles and give sips of up to a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes, but do not give liquids containing caffeine or alcohol.
Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place and results in a form of mild shock. When too much fluid is lost through sweating, blood flow to the skin increases causing a decrease in flow to the vital organs. If not treated, the condition will worsen.
Heat exhaustion is marked by heavy sweating but the skin may be cool, pale or flushed; and a weak pulse. A normal body temperature is possible, but it will likely rise. Fainting or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion and headaches are possible.
To treat, get victim to lie down in a cool place; loosen or remove clothing; apply cool, wet cloths; fan or move the victim to an air-conditioned place; and give sips of water if the victim is conscious, but be sure water is consumed slowly. Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly, according to FEMA.
It is marked by a high body temperature (105+); hot, red, dry skin; a rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. The victim probably will not be sweating and may be unconscious.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If it is suspected, call 911 immediately.
While waiting for emergency services to arrive, move victim to a cooler environment; remove his or her clothing; and attempt a cool bath, sponging, or wrapping a wet sheet around the person to reduce body temperature. Use fans or air conditioners to help cool the victim and watch for breathing problems.
To avoid these problems, the National Weather Service has issued heat wave safety tips:
—Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day. Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
—Dress for summer. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps the body maintain normal temperatures.
—Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods (like proteins) that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
—Drink plenty of water or other non-alcohol fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid restrictive diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids.
—Do not drink alcoholic beverages.
—Do not take salt tablets unless directed by a physician.
—Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spending some time each day (during hot weather) in an air conditioned environment like a store affords some protection.
—Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.