With expected high temperatures and humidity expected the rest of the week pushing the Heat Index into the dangerous realm, Audrain County Emergency Management Director Steve Shaw is warning Audrain County residents to take precautions to protect themselves, loved ones, and pets.
“With the Heat Index expected to be between 105 and 110 during the day through at least Saturday, people need to take this seriously and make sure they take care of themselves, their loved ones and pets,” Shaw said. “It doesn’t take long in this heat to be overcome by it, that’s for sure.”
With the excessive heat expected, residents can suffer several different ailments from it. Those include everything from heat exhaustion, heat stroke that could lead to death.
“Please try and limit your time spent outdoors in this type of heat,” Shaw said. “If you have to be out in it due to your profession, please make sure you keep yourself hydrated and take plenty of breaks to let your body have time to cool itself and recover.”
Shaw says the elderly and young children seem to be the most susceptible to the effects of heat. He urges those with air conditioning to use it during this time and, if you are one of those residents without air conditioning? “Well, please try and find a place to stay during the day that offers air conditioning, and, at night, please make sure you have a fan to circulate the air,” he says. “And, please remain hydrated throughout the period by upping your intake of water.”
Heat exhaustion is the most common affliction seen by emergency rooms and doctors during heat waves, but the number of heat strokes increases as well, Shaw says. Heat exhaustion symptoms include dizziness; nausea or vomiting; heavy sweating accompanied by cold, clammy skin; weak, rapid pulse; pale or flushed face; muscle cramps; headache and weakness or fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, get inside somewhere cool and rest with your feet and legs elevated slightly; remove tight, heavy clothing; cool the person by spraying them with a mist of water; and drink plenty of water.
Heat stroke symptoms include a body temperature of 104 degrees and above and, possibly, an altered mental state.
“These folks should be taken to the nearest emergency room or doctor’s office for immediate treatment,” Shaw said. “Heat stroke can have lingering effects if not treated immediately and can ultimately kill you if left untreated.”
Shaw says this is a good time also to have a reputable heating and air company to do a once-over on your air conditioning unit or central air unit.
“You want to make sure your cooling system is in its best working order before the heat begins,” he pointed out. “But, that’s something that most don’t think about doing until it quits when it’s needed most. Might be a good idea to get a technician from one of our fine heating and cooling companies here in Audrain County to come out and check your system so it doesn’t quit when you need it most.”
If your cooling system is broken or you don’t have one, Shaw says there are informal cooling centers around cities in Audrain County that are open during business hours that residents can take advantage of. In Mexico, these include the Mexico-Audrain County Library, the Audrain County Courthouse and SSM-Audrain Hospital. In Vandalia, residents can utilize the Vandalia branch of the Audrain County library system.
The heat is expected to last through Sunday at least when, the National Weather Service in St. Louis says, we could get a break from it as a cold front sweeps through the area. Until then, Shaw says to be on guard against the dangers not only for yourself, but those around you as well.
“Please make sure you monitor loved ones through this week as well,” he says. “The heat is a susceptible thing and can creep up on someone that is fine one moment and then starts exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion the next. Please check on elderly neighbors and make sure young children stay hydrated and protected. Oh, and slip Rover or Fluffy a few ice cubes in his drinking water. He’ll appreciate that as well because heat exhaustion and stroke can impact animals as well.”