Even though temperatures have dropped into the 90s, over nine weeks of summer remain and in the next two months, excessive heat warnings will likely return. Area officials encourage residents to take precautions in the heat and check in on friends and loved ones throughout the summer.
"We want folks to make sure and stay hydrated when they are out in the sun," said Roger Brock, Barry County Health Department administrator. "Drink plenty of water, and avoid being outside during the hottest times of the day."
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the American Red Cross offer the following tips to prevent heat-related illness:
* Wear light-weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
*Schedule outdoor activities before noon or in the late evening.
*Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
Area residents should also be aware of the warning signs of heat illness, which include feeling dizzy or lightheaded, blurred vision, nausea, tingles in the extremities and the inability to sweat, said Brock.
"If you are playing sports or taking part in another activity outdoors in the heat and you quit sweating you are probably dehydrated," said Brock.
Heat-related illnesses occur when the body's temperature-control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating. During times of extreme heat, when the humidity is high, sweat does not evaporate as quickly, which prevents the body from releasing heat.
Other signs and symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, hot or dry skin, paleness, rapid pulse, muscle cramps, headache and weakness. All symptoms of heat illness should be taken extremely seriously.
In the event of a heat emergency, move the person to a cooler place and give them a half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Also, remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths to help cool the body.
Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr reminds area residents that children, elderly individuals and pets are not safe in parked vehicles during the summer.
"When the temperature reaches 70 or above, even with the windows slightly cracked, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes and 120 degrees in 30 minutes," said Kammerlohr. "Between 108 and 110 degrees, brain damage, heat stroke or even agonizing death can occur.
"If you are going on a shopping errand, it is best to leave your pets at home," said Kammerlohr. "Don't leave children or elderly in the car either. Take them in with you or leave an adult in the vehicle with the air conditioning running."
If a community member sees a pet, child or elderly individual sitting in a vehicle with the windows up, Kammerlohr encourages them to report the vehicle by calling 847-4911 or 911.
"No matter what the temperature is, in the summer it is always a good idea to travel with bottled water," said Kammerlohr. "A good tip is to freeze the bottle of water and use the water as the ice melts.
"Remember to give water to pets when traveling too," said Kammerlohr. "If an animal does get overheated, give them water to drink, rub them down with water and seek medical help as soon as possible.
"Heat related deaths are very preventable when you take precautions," added Kammerlohr.
The following individuals are at greater risk for heat-related illnesses and should be monitored closely or visited at least twice a day:
* Infants and young children who rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.
* People who are 65 years of age or older.
* Individuals who are physically ill, especially those with heart disease, high blood pressure and those taking medications for depression, insomnia or poor circulation.
* People who are overweight or over exert during work or exercise.
For more information about heat-related illnesses, visit the DHSS website at www.dhss.mo.gov or call the American Red Cross at 417-832-9500.