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Rain brings break, not end, to weeklong heat wave

Rains Wednesday morning brought some relief in a heat wave that has baked Mississippi this week, but it’s
not over yet.

The weekend forecast calls for temperatures in the range of 93 to 96 degrees. Combined with high humidity, that can make spending time outdoors dangerous, especially for people with chronic illnesses.

“But most forms of heat illness are preventable,” said Kim Kilpatrick, nurse practitioner at the Merit Health Medical Group clinic on Mission 66.

Temperatures reached 97 degrees Tuesday at Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport, and the heat index was as high as 115 degrees in mid-afternoon. After heavy rain moved through the area Wednesday morning, temperatures struggled to reach 90 degrees although the heat index climbed over 100.

The forecast highs for Thursday, Friday and Saturday are all 94 and above, which can lead to heat-related illnesses for the unprepared.

If at all possible, prolonged exposure to high temperatures should be avoided or frequent rest breaks taken when avoidance is not an option. Drinking lots of fluids and maintaining hydration is vital in reducing the frequency and severity of the more significant forms of heat illness.

“Those who are most at risk for classic heatstroke, such as the elderly and chronically ill, should be monitored to assure that they are getting enough fluids and that they are in a safe and climate-controlled environment, especially in times of prolonged elevation of high temperatures like we have been currently experiencing,” Kilpatrick said.

According to the medical website WebMD, the symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which might be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

If a person is suspected to have heatstroke, immediately call 911 or take them to a hospital. Any delay seeking medical help can be fatal.

While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, initiate first aid. Move the person to an air-conditioned environment — or at least a cool, shady area — and remove any unnecessary clothing.

If possible, take the person’s core body temperature and initiate first aid to cool it to 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. If no thermometers are available, don’t hesitate to initiate first aid.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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