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Caution urged in deadly heat

 

Madison Kimbrough tries to stay cool by eating a Hawaiian shaved ice in Russellville Tuesday just after a round of heavy storms moved through the area. | Nathan Strickland/FCT

 

High temperatures plus high humidity equals sweat and blisters on those who have chosen the outside life for a career this week.

Even though there has not been a heat advisory issued yet, the “feels-like” temperature, also known as the heat index, hit the 102 degree mark Tuesday, which pushed many roofers like owner of Hawkins Roofing and Construction Billy Hawkins to do work earlier instead of later in the day. 

“We are working more on the construction side of things and trying to stay off the roofs until this heat wave passes,” he said. “Being on a roof in this kind of heat is really rough. The main thing is the high humidity which makes it 10 times worse and plus it could actually mess up a roof because the shingles will start melting under your feet.”

Hawkins said he and his guys are pretty good about watching after their health when it is scorching hot outside like it has been this week.

“When doing construction there is not much you can do but just to keep yourself hydrated,” he said. “We got wet towels and drinks around at all times to keep us from passing out.”

Hawkins said sometimes the heat still affects him even after he gets home from being out in the sun all day.

“Being out in the heat can make you really sick,” Hawkins said. “Even if you believe you are earlier in the day, I’ve found myself getting sick when I get home from work sometimes after being in the sun all day. The heat can really drain you.”

Experts say the temperature inside an enclosed vehicle could reach up to 150 degrees.

Sunday, a 4-year old Franklin County boy was found dead after going out to play then crawling into the family vehicle. A preliminary autopsy showed the cause of death was from extreme heat built up in the car causing the child to get hyperthermia.

According to familydoctor.org, heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, occur when your body can’t keep itself cool. As the air temperature rises, your body stays cool when your sweat evaporates. On hot, humid days, the evaporation of sweat is slowed by the increased moisture in the air. When sweating isn’t enough to cool your body, your body temperature rises, and you may become ill.

The web site urges those experiencing heat-related symptoms to get in a cool place quickly and rest. Drink plenty of water or other fluids. Do not drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks. These can make heat exhaustion worse.

Take a cool shower or bath, or apply cool water to your skin. Take off any tight or unnecessary clothing. If none of that works within 30 minutes, contact a doctor. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can progress to heatstroke.

Russellville Family Physician Dr. Harry W. Kuberg said staying in a cool environment as much as possible and being well hydrated are the main things needed to beat the heat.

“We are fortunate that we haven’t had a lot of folks come in with symptoms from the heat,” he said. “If your hot and not sweating that is a definite sign that something could be wrong. With the temperatures real hot, I would ask that people keep an eye out for the really young ones and elderly family members. In the past, these are the people who have been affected the most.”

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