As a very hot week in the Highland Lakes comes to a close, the weekend offers no relief.
According to the National Weather Service, an upper-level high-pressure ridge over the desert southwest and parts of Texas will push area temperatures to between 103 and 106 degrees Friday-Monday, June 10-13.
The extreme highs put people at risk for heat-related illnesses, including cramps, exhaustion, and stroke. Health officials emphasize taking steps to protect yourself.
“The absolute best thing for prevention, of course, is drinking water,” said Lt. Vaughn Hamilton of the Marble Falls Area EMS.
He recommends starting preventive measures the night before you have to be outside in the heat by “drinking enough water before bed that (you) have to get up during the night to use the restroom.”
“And then, drink (water) again for breakfast,” he continued.
It’s also best to plan outdoor activities during the cooler times of the day, usually in the morning or late evening, if possible. However, evening hours might only offer a slight respite as highs only drop to the upper and mid-90s just before sunset.
If outdoors, especially during the hottest part of the day, wear a wide-brim hat, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing, and sunscreen. Also, keep water close at hand and drink it regularly throughout the day. During outdoor activities, take regular breaks and seek out shady areas or go inside for air-conditioned breaks.
Despite these measures, heat can still impact a person’s health.
“We see this time of year at least two or three times a week a heat-related emergency,” Hamilton said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, types of heat-related illnesses include:
heat syncope (fainting)
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are extremely concerning and usually require some medical intervention.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include, but are not limited to:
elevated body temperature
decreased urine output
According to the CDC, a person exhibiting these symptoms should get out of the sun or heat to cool off and seek medical attention.
Symptoms of the more serious heat stroke include:
confusion/altered mental state/slurred speech
loss of consciousness (coma)
hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
very high body temperature
Heat stroke can be fatal if not treated immediately.
“… Heat stroke can be easily thought of as an altered sense of mentation coupled with exposure to heat in the air and/or heat generated by our bodies when we are working or exercising hard,” Hamilton said. “The heat stroke is, of course, the worst problem because it is actually negatively affecting the person’s brain.”
If someone is exhibiting heat stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1, he said. While waiting, move them to a cool area, remove as much of their clothing as possible, douse them with cool water, and give them a mixture of half sports drink and half water, if they can safely drink it.
To avoid a potentially fatal situation, prevention remains key, Hamilton stressed.
For more information on heat-related illnesses, symptoms, and first aid, visit the CDC’s webpage.