Heat advisories possible

Published 11:05 am Friday, June 17, 2016

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Birmingham could issue heat advisories today, as temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 90s with heat indexes that could exceed 105 degrees.

Jason Holmes, spokesperson for the NWS in Birmingham, said that rain could come to provide relief from higher temperatures, but the NWS is only forecasting a 20 percent chance of rain.

Holmes cautioned that the temps could provide challenges for residents.

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“People don’t realize how easy it is to become dehydrated just doing simple tasks in this heat,” he said. He also warned against leaving children in parked cars. “With heat like this, the temperature inside of a parked car can reach more than 100 degrees in a matter of minutes,” he said. “We’ve unfortunately already seen several incidents this season of kids dying because they were left in parked cars.”

High temperatures can cause a variety of illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Leaving a child in a vehicle is also made more dangerous in extremely hot conditions, as temperatures can rise quickly inside the car.

The CDC lists symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, two of the most dangerous illnesses related to heat. The clearest symptoms of heat stroke are hot, dry skin (no sweating) and confusion or slurred speech. If you suspect someone is having a heat stroke, you should call 911 immediately. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, dizziness, and heavy sweating. The best action to take is to cool the person suffering from exhaustion and take them to a local emergency room or urgent care facility. If there is no medical help nearby, call 911 and try to cool the person down by giving them water and wetting them with cool rags until help arrives.

Holmes said citizens should try to stay out of the most direct sunlight that occurs between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. He suggested doing errands in the early morning and late afternoon hours. One of the main concerns, he said, is hydration.

It’s not just children that are at particular risk during extreme heat conditions; pets also can be affected.

Dr. Robert Hawkins, veterinarian at Troy Animal Clinic, said that outside dogs and other pets should be okay with adequate water and shelter. He said that it’s inside pets, especially dogs, that owners need to be cautious about. “I wouldn’t leave an inside dog outside unsupervised for more than 20 minutes,” he said.  “Dogs are often high-strung and heat stroke can hit fast and they have no way to recover.” Hawkins also recommended not jogging with dogs in the heat, as there is no water readily available.

Hawkins warned specifically about allowing breeds such as Boston terriers, English bulldogs and pugs outside for long periods of time, as they already have issues breathing.  Hawkins advised owners that are concerned that their pet might be having a heat stroke to cool them down gradually. “These pets need to be cooled down as quickly as possible,” he said. “But you also can’t stick them in an ice bath. A lot of these pets come in and they don’t even register on our thermometers because they heat up so fast.”

They’ve broken their internal thermostat and if they cool too fast, they’ll just keep cooling because they can’t regulate their temperature. A lot of these pets actually die of hypothermia.”