The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Watch for mid-Missouri, including Lake of the Ozarks, Phelps and Pulaski counties. The forecast is currently calling for the excessive heat to last through Saturday evening. Afternoon high temperatures will reach the middle to upper 90s, nearing 100, with humidity heat indices that will reach 105 to 110.

More people die each year in the United States from heat-related incidents than all other weather events. Seniors, infants and those with other health conditions are at the highest risk, according to information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. 

Exposure to extreme heat can cause a variety of health problems, including heatstroke and even death. At particular risk are infants and children up to 4 years old, people 65 years old and older and people who are ill or on certain medications. Heat stroke can occur in as little as 10 minutes. 

DHSS recommends slowing down, staying cool and hydrated when the temperatures start to rise. 

Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion Include:

Heavy sweating Paleness Muscle cramps Tiredness and weakness Dizziness or fainting Headache Nausea or vomiting

What to Do

Rest in a cool, preferably air-conditioned, area. Loosen clothing. Cool down with a shower, bath or sponge bath Drink plenty of non-alcoholic and caffeine-free beverages. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke Vary But May Include:

Extremely high body temperature (above 103° F orally) Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating) Rapid pulse Throbbing headache Dizziness Nausea Confusion Unconsciousness

What to Do

Call for immediate medical assistance. Move the victim to a cool or shady area. Cool the victim rapidly using whatever methods you can. 
(For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place in a cool shower; spray with cool water from a garden hose or sponge with cool water. Avoid use of fans). Monitor body temperature, and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102° F. Do not give the victim alcohol to drink. Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

 

What to do during severe heat and heat emergencies:

Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun. Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available. Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, movie theaters and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the evaporation rate of perspiration.  Use exhaust fans and dehumidifiers when needed. Eat light, well-balanced meals at regular intervals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. Drink plenty of water. Individuals with epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease, who are on fluid-restricted diets, or who have problems with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake. Limit intake of alcoholic beverages. Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Wear sunscreen. Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone. Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day; use the buddy system when working in extreme heat; and take frequent breaks.

 

If your home is not air-conditioned, use moving air to try to beat the heat:

Open all windows early in the morning to get rid of heat and help cool the home. Keep the house closed during the hottest part of the day. Check indoor and outdoor thermometers to make sure that the indoor temperature is still cooler than outside. Later, open up the house so the cooler night air can lower inside temperatures. Use floor and ceiling fans as much as possible to circulate a cooling breeze. Also use window fans if not using air conditioning. Sleep in a cooler part of the residence, such as lower floors or the basement. Take showers and baths early in the morning or late at night. Use appliances and equipment that give off heat (iron, light bulbs, clothes dryer, hair dryer, etc.) only as needed and limit use to the early morning or at night, not during the middle of the day. Slow down and avoid physical exertion to avoid heat stress. Listen to radio and television for discomfort index warnings and keep in touch with others every day. If the residence becomes too warm, try to be in a cooler place during the hottest part of the day – a friend’s or neighbor’s home, a cooling center, senior center, shopping mall or library. Know the terms: 

•Heat Wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.

•Heat Index is a number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees. • Heat Cramps are muscle pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat. Heat Exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke. Heat Stroke is a life-threatening condition. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Sun Stroke is another term for heat stroke.