Heat warnings continue across the state

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Excessive heat warnings are expected to remain in effect across southwest Missouri through Thursday. In light of the sweltering temperatures, area officials encourage area residents to exercise caution and check on others.

"We certainly want folks to try to avoid being outside, especially during the hottest part of the day, which is usually from 1 to 5 p.m.," said Roger Brock, Barry County Health Department administrator. "If you have to be outside, drink lots of fluids, especially water. The main thing is to avoid exposure to the heat for long periods of time."

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the American Red Cross have released 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.

Brock reminds area residents to be aware of the warning signs of heat illness, including feeling dizzy, tingles in the extremities, nausea and the inability to sweet.

"If you have any of those symptoms you should seek medical attention," 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 and pets are not safe in parked vehicles during times of extreme heat.

"People forget that the temperature inside a vehicle - even with the windows cracked, can soar past 120 degrees quickly in this kind of weather," said Kammerlohr. "We've been lucky in our area so far and are not aware of any heat-related deaths in Cassville.

"Several children have not been so lucky in Oklahoma and other areas," said Kammerlohr. "We just want everyone to be sensitive to the danger of this intense heat. Please act immediately if you see a distressed person or pet."

Reports can be made by calling Barry County's central dispatch at 847-4911 or 911.

Parents are encouraged to check to make sure everyone is out of the car before leaving the vehicle unattended. Children can be overlooked when they fall asleep in the backseat.

A good tip to remind parents that a child is in the car is to place a purse or other needed item by the child in the car seat. Parents can also keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and after the child is buckled the toy can be placed in the front seat next to the driver.

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 overexert during work or exercise.

The Humane Society of Missouri advises pet owners to take special precautions for their four-legged friends during times of extreme heat. Pets should not be left unattended in a parked car if the temperature rises above 70 degrees.

Outdoor pets should have access to clean water and shade at all times. When the weather is extremely hot, pets should be kept inside with adequate ventilation, fans or air conditioning.

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.

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