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Mercury climb sparks heat illness awareness

Kasey Lairsey, 6, beats the heat as he enjoys a slice of cold watermelon after a cool swim in the Flint River at Riverbend Park in Mitchell County Saturday afternoon. Officials say that it is important to stay cool and hydrated during the hot summer days in Southwest Georgia. Temperatures will remain in the 90s throughout the next week.

Kasey Lairsey, 6, beats the heat as he enjoys a slice of cold watermelon after a cool swim in the Flint River at Riverbend Park in Mitchell County Saturday afternoon. Officials say that it is important to stay cool and hydrated during the hot summer days in Southwest Georgia. Temperatures will remain in the 90s throughout the next week.

ALBANY -- Many areas of the country, Albany included, saw temperatures rise above the century mark going into the Independence Day holiday period.

This, in turn, has prompted the Southwest Public Health District to get the word out on the dangers of heat-related illness.

"At least once a year we have to issue something," said Brenda Greene, deputy director of the health district. "This year, we saw record-tying (and breaking) temperatures. Anytime that is occurring, we want to warn people."

Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Knowing who is at greatest risk of heat-related illness, the symptoms and how to respond is especially important during heat waves, health officials say.

Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature and self-cool. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Body temperature above 103 degrees;

  • Red, hot and dry skin with no sweating;

  • Rapid, strong pulse;

  • Throbbing headache;

  • Dizziness;

  • Nausea;

  • Confusion;

  • Unconsciousness.

Heat exhaustion carries similar symptoms, aside from the lack of sweating. With heat stroke, there is often more confusion and a greater chance of losing consciousness, Greene said.

If such symptoms occur, officials advise seeking out immediate medical attention. Meanwhile, get the victim out of the sun and cool him or her with whatever means are available, and if emergency personnel are delayed, call them for additional instructions, officials say.

Heat stroke is a life-and-death emergency.

"It's important to recognize when to seek medical help," Greene said. "If symptoms do not improve quickly, or get worse, it is an emergency."

Older adults, the very young and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk of heat-related illness and death, officials say.

"(Older adults and young children) are just not as able to effectively regulate body temperature," Greene said. "Their medications might not allow it (effective temperature regulation) as well."

Areas that have higher humidity could potentially see more cases of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, officials say.

"Sweat doesn't evaporate in humidity, which is part of the body cooling process, so the body might not cool as effectively," Greene said.

Spokespeople at both Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Phoebe North said there has not been any recent activity related to heat-induced illness, with the exception of one case in the emergency room at the main campus last week.

The top protection against heat-related illness and death is air conditioning. For those who do not have air conditioning in their home, it is recommended that they spend time in climate-controlled buildings such as libraries or shopping malls.

Other tips include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids, but staying away from those that are sugary or alcoholic because they actually cause a person to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, since they can cause stomach cramps;

  • Wearing lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing;

  • Trying to limit outdoor activities to early in the morning or late in the evening, when temperatures are cooler;

  • Never leaving children or pets in cars, even with the windows cracked open.

The National Weather Service reported that the overall high for Albany during the heat wave was 104 degrees, with records confirmed to have been broken in Atlanta and Columbus at 106 degrees and a record tied in Macon at 108 degrees.

Officials at accuweather.com reported Friday that the massive high pressure area responsible for the heat was expected to shift early this week, with the core of system to move westward. The National Weather Service's seven-day forecast predicts that the highs will drop to the 91-93 degree range starting Tuesday.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

Answer me this riddle. Why does the weather forecast always show the highest probability of rain 7 days away? Always!

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VSU 1 year, 9 months ago

I got though I don't even pay attention to the weather forecasters anymore. They are always saying it's going to rain and 90% of the time it doesn't. A week or two ago they predicted we would get 3 inches of rain, and didn't get a drop. Then another day they predicted rain and it was clear all day, another day they said it would be sunny and clear and it stormed that day. I get a weather alert email saying "Look for strong thunderstorms late in the afternoon"....come afternoon...nothing! And it's not just one forecaster, all of them do it. Is Albany that bad that not even the storms want to pass through Albany?

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Hawk59 1 year, 9 months ago

Is it so bad and boring of a place that you have to be even negative about the weather? Why are you still there? You always have the option of moving. South Fla. is in the rainy season. You want rain? Come on down, we have at least another month of regular afternoon thunder-boomers....On second thought, disregard. Keep your unhappy,boring, complaining, negative a$$ up there.

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Sally_O 1 year, 9 months ago

What business is it of yours? Maybe some people would like to have an acurate forecast to plan events? You just worry about South Florida and let us worry about Georgia.

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Hawk59 1 year, 9 months ago

There you go again Sally-O. Sticking your foot in your big mouth again. My comment was not directed at you, nor Sister-Ruby. But if the shoe fits... You know the rest. FYI I was in Albany last week attending my Family reunion. We had a blast. Got to see some classmates as well as a few former teachers. Glad none of that negativity rubbed off on me and my Family while we were there. Will be back next year!

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