• 66°

Seek relief from high temperatures

If you thought last week was hotter than it ought to be, even for this time of year, you were right. Last week, temperatures reached or surpassed the 90 degree mark several days in a row.

Meteorologist Kari Schatz, with the National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va., said daytime temperatures for early June should be in the mid eighties.

&uot;On Independence Day,&uot; Schatz said, &uot;the high in Huntington, W.Va., was 93. On Tuesday and Wednesday, it was 92. We’ve been a good five degrees above normal. We’ve had very warm air, and few clouds to keep temperatures down.&uot;

The mercury shot past 90 Friday as well.Thermometers registered 87 degrees by noon.

And it felt even worse, with the humidity hovering around 70 percent.

Schatz said the more pleasant weather Saturday and Sunday would be a short lived respite, with temperatures and humidity level both expected to climb back to an uncomfortable level early next week and stay there for several days.

The long term forecast, however, calls for more seasonable temperatures.

&uot;We anticipate temperatures to be around normal for the rest of the summer,&uot; Schatz predicted.

As the mercury rises, so do the chances for heat related illness. Last week, an elderly Cleveland man died from heat.

&uot;Children, the elderly and people with health problems can be particularly vulnerable to heat sickness than others, but it is important for everyone to be prepared for heat emergencies,&uot; Federal Emergency Management Agency Acting Regional Director Tammy Doherty said.

In a normal year, approximately 175 Americans die from extreme heat.

Between 1936 and 1975, nearly 20,000 people succumbed to the effects of heat and solar radiation.

Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. Under normal conditions, the body’s internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.

Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has overexercised for his or her age and physical condition.

Other conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality.

Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms from heavy exertion. They often involve the abdominal muscles or legs. To treat heat cramps, get the person to a cooler place and rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids. Give the person a half glass of cool water every fifteen minutes.

Heat Exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. The skin will be cool and moist, and could appear to be either pale or flushed. The victim may have a headache and/or be suffering from nausea. There may also be some dizziness. Prompt treatment can prevent the

condition from intensifying to heat stroke.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat emergency and is life threatening. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. Body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Warning signs include: hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse and rapid, shallow breathing. Skin may be wet following heavy work or exercise from perspiration; otherwise, it will feel dry.

A person suffering from heat stroke needs help fast. Call 911 and move them to a cooler place immediately. Immerse heat stroke victims in a cool bath or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water, is vomiting, or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.

To stay in top form when facing the stress of a natural disaster during hot weather spells,

Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day.

Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine.

Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect away some of the sun’s energy.

Drink plenty of water regularly and often.

Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty.

Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat’s effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which actually dehydrates the body.

Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.

Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune