Summer takes off with a scorching start

·3 min read

Jun. 3—"It's hot!" Jerry Maxwell said while sitting on his golf cart outside Anniston's Lake Yahou, sweat beading on his forehead.

Maxwell and his cohort Lucas Ledbetter work for the McClellan Development Authority and were outdoors Thursday, working around the lake in the early summer heat.

It was 91 degrees in Anniston Wednesday, on what officials consider the "meteorological" start to summer — June 1 — according to the National Weather Service's meteorologist Chris Darden.

With the humidity beating down and raising the heat index well into the 90s, Alabama summer began just as hot and sticky as ever.

Though the current temperatures might feel unbearable, the heat index is still well below the criteria for NWS to issue an advisory. The temperature must be 105 degrees for the NWS to issue a "heat index advisory," and 110 degrees to issue an "excessive heat warning," Darden said.

However, folks should remain cautious when doing anything outdoors for long periods of time. At those temperatures, "you can get dehydrated pretty quickly and not even realize it," Darden said.

Several fire departments and first responders across Calhoun County weighed in and said they haven't received any calls of heat related emergencies yet. However, Oxford Fire Chief Gary Sparks said those types of calls are common when temperatures rise.

"The summer months are extremely tough on the elderly and the young," Sparks said. "Use sunscreen, wear hats, to protect yourself from the sun."

Darden echoed Sparks. He said loose-fitting clothing, especially when working outdoors, and taking frequent breaks are both important.

"We tell people drink plenty of fluids, hydrate, that's the most important thing," Darden said.

Darden pointed out that pets also can get overheated quickly, so making sure they have plenty of clean water and accessible shade is very important.

The recent temperatures are only a few degrees above what is considered by meteorologists to be normal for this time of year, with the average high around 85 degrees, according to Darden. However the record high was set in 2011, at 98 degrees.

With temperatures sure to steadily rise into the summer months, there are a few telltale signs that someone is having a heat-related emergency, according to Dr. Raul Magadia with Anniston's Regional Medical Center.

A person who is having a heatstroke or suffering from heat exhaustion will likely not be able to tell you they are, according to Magadia. Instead, look for signs such as confusion, paleness, a spaced-out "look about them."

Magadia said many of those suffering from heat stroke will say things like "I just feel funny," and simply look pale and have a "swimming" or "head-spaced" look. All of these are danger signs, and can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion in a matter of hours, sometimes minutes.

Those around someone who could be experiencing a heat-related emergency should pull the person inside immediately and get them something to drink, preferably something that has electrolytes, according to Magadia.

Magadia said most importantly, if you think someone around you has suffered a heat stroke, don't wait — seek medical attention as soon as possible.

"A heat stroke is one of those emergencies that need to be addressed by a medical professional ASAP," Magadia said.