Friday, June 29, 2012

Here Comes the Heat


Johnson City Press Staff Writer  

The next few days could be the hottest seen in the Tri-Cities since the 1950s. But there are ways to stay safe in the extreme heat. The expected temperature for Thursday will be 93 degrees, Friday will be 97 and Saturday temperatures are expected to reach 98. The record temperature for Thursday is 96, Friday 95, Saturday 95 and Sunday 98. All of those records were set in the 1950s. 

According to the National Weather Service, a strong high pressure over the middle of the country will build over the Tennessee Valley by the end of the week. This high will produce almost record high temperatures for Thursday through Sunday. The thermometer is expected to reach 100 degrees or more in Knoxville and Chattanooga.     

Moisture will also increase in the region in the next few days. There is a 20 percent chance of rain on Saturday. The combination of the heat and humidity will create oppressive heat indexes.     
The National Weather Service advises people to try to stay out of the heat.     

If you have to be out in the heat, there are some tips on keeping yourself safe in the extreme heat.    
“The main thing is to wear light clothing and stay hydrated,” said Medical director of First Assist Urgent Care, Dr. Tim Schwob. “Just do whatever you can to keep the heat off of you. Try to get in the shade and get out of the heat.”    

The two most common types of illnesses associated with extreme heat are heat exhaustion and heat stroke.    According to the Centers for Disease Control’s website, symptoms of heat exhaustion include sweating heavily, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. People suffering from heat exhaustion will still have a relatively normal body temperature and will still think clearly, Schwob said.    

When people suffer from heat exhaustion, they just need to hydrate and get out of the heat, Schwob said.    The more serious illness is heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include an extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating), rapid, strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness, according to the CDC.    

If you notice any of these symptoms or notice someone having them, try to hydrate them and cool them down. Then, call a doctor.     

Some more tips for beating the heat include not drinking alcohol or caffeine in the heat, because the two can cause significant loss of water. Also avoid really cold drinks, because they could cause stomach cramps.    Drink lots of water, even if you’re not thirsty. Stay indoors in air conditioning if at all possible. If you don’t have air conditioning, try to go to a place that has air conditioning, such as a library or a mall. Never leave anyone in a closed, parked car.     

If you have to be out in the heat, try to limit your time outside to morning and evening hours. Cut down on exercise, but if you do exercise consume two to four glasses of cool water every hour. Try to rest in the shade often and wear sunglasses, hats and sunscreen SPF 15 or higher, according to the CDC.    
Since some people will be spending a majority of the time indoors running the air conditioning or fans, there are ways to keep your electric bill down and save energy.     

“Try to set your thermostat between 76 and 80 degrees,” said Robert White, Johnson City Power Board spokesman. “Keep your curtains and blinds shut, so as not to allow direct sunlight into your home.”    
Again, wear light, loose clothing, even inside your home.     

Some more tips are to always keep your vents free from obstruction and keep all external doors and windows closed so energy does not escape from the home. If you are using window air conditioning units, try to place them on the north side of your home.     

The population most at risk for suffering from a heat related illness are people 65 and older, infants or young children, people who have mental illness or those who are physically ill, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

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