EDITORIAL: Take precautions to stay safe during hot, humid weather

·2 min read

Jun. 10—Summer won't officially start for another week and a half, but it will definitely feel like summer in the Joplin area by Thursday.

High temperatures are projected to reach into the upper 80s Thursday afternoon, and combined with high humidity, the heat index could be around 99 or 100 degrees. It could be even worse on Friday, when temperatures of around 90 degrees mixed with continued high humidity could drive the heat index as high as 102, according to forecasts from the National Weather Service station in Springfield.

This type of weather can be extremely dangerous. Such extreme heat — defined as a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two or three days — requires the body to work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, and it's responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards, according to Ready.gov, a safety-themed website of the U.S. government.

During hot weather, stay hydrated, but avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol, according to the American Red Cross. Eat small meals, and eat more often. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing. Postpone outdoor games and activities. Take frequent breaks if you work outdoors, and stay in the shade when possible. Check on family, friends and neighbors, especially those who are more at risk of heat-related illnesses: the elderly, children, sick or overweight individuals, and those who don't have air conditioning. Also make sure your pets have plenty of shade and water, and never leave them in an enclosed vehicle.

And, from Ready.gov, know what illnesses to look for and how to treat them:

—Heat cramps, which are muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs. To treat, go to a cooler location, remove excess clothing, take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar, and call your health care provider if you are sick.

—Heat exhaustion, identified by symptoms such as heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, fainting, nausea or vomiting. To treat, go to an air-conditioned place and lie down, loosen or remove clothing, take a cool bath and take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Call your health care provider if symptoms last more than an hour.

—Heatstroke, identified by symptoms such as a body temperature above 103 degrees, red and hot skin with no sweat, a rapid pulse and dizziness, confusion or unconsciousness. Call 911 or get the individual to a hospital immediately.

Summer may be getting a jump start here, but this won't be the last time we'll need to be aware of the heat this year. Stay safe, everyone.

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