The metro area can expect at least two more days with a strong enough combination of heat and humidity to pose health risks to people and pets.
The National Weather Service has a heat advisory up through 7 p.m. Wednesday. “Prolonged exposure to heat and humidity may lead to heat-related illness if precautions are not taken,” the agency says in the alert.
Residents are advised to dress in light and loose-fitting clothing, drink plenty of fluids, stay in the shade or, better yet, in air-conditioned spaces for extended periods. If possible, put off strenuous outdoor work.
Today’s SkyCast is yellow – shy of an alert but meaning that the heat is contributing to ground-level ozone, which causes respiratory problems.
• Sunny and breezy today, with a high of 95. The heat index should peak at 105. Clear tonight, low of 75.
• Wednesday, high of 96, a little less windy. A little relief could come overnight Wednesday. There’s a 20 percent chance of thundershowers after 1 a.m.
• The weather might turn Thursday. The high is 94, but a 40 percent chance of rain runs from early Thursday afternoon through Friday night. Highs will be in the low 90s through the weekend.
The city of Independence has opened the Sermon Center, at Truman and Noland roads, as a cooling center. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and Wednesday.
Vesper Hall in Blue Springs also is a cooling center (8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Friday).
Mid-Continent Public Library branches also are shelters.
Tips to be safe
Heat-related illnesses happen every summer. To be safe, take it easy and drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.
• Spend at least some time each day in an air-conditioned space.
• Wear lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing.
• Limit outdoor activity to the morning and evening, when the heat is less intense.
• Don’t leave anyone – including pets and especially small children – in a locked vehicle, even for a minute.
• Make sure outdoor pets have access shade and plenty of fresh water. The Humane Society of Missouri suggests keeping pets indoors if you can.
• Plenty of good old water is a good choice for staying hydrated. Alcohol, sugary drinks and even caffeinated drinks such as coffee are less than ideal. Sport drinks, though many are high in sugar, can be a good option, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests a mix of one part “sport electrolyte drink” to two parts water.
Know the symptoms
The Weather Service points to three progressively worse heat-related health problems:
• Heat cramps are often accompanied by heavy perspiration. Apply firm pressure to cramped muscles, massage any muscles that are in spasm, and sip water unless you become nauseated.
• Heat exhaustion has a variety of symptoms: weakness; fainting; dizziness; heavy perspiration; cool, pale or clammy skin; muscle cramps; nausea or vomiting; and a fast but weak pulse. Move that person to a cooler place. Have him lie down, and loosen some clothing. Offer sips of water, and apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible. Use a fan, or, better yet, get to an air-conditioned space. If the person vomits more than once, get medical attention right away.
• The worst is heat stroke. It’s an emergency and can be fatal. The person can slip into an altered mental state and can have a throbbing headache, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing and confusion. The skin can be hot, red, dry or moist, and the pulse can be strong and rapid. The body temperature can rise above 103, and the person can faint.
Call 911 or get the person to a hospital. Don’t give fluids. Get to a cooler environment, preferably one that’s air-conditioned. Use cool cloths or a bath to reduce the body temperature. Use a fan if the heat index is below the high 90s, but remember that a fan can make you hotter at high temperatures.
The Mid-America Regional Council posts a daily SkyCast, predicting ground-level ozone conditions. Ozone is created at ground level when fumes such as car exhaust or gas fumes mix with sunlight. That’s usually the worst on hot, calm days.
Ground-level ozone can contribute to breathing problems.
MARC posts four levels of air quality: green, yellow (which means some concerns and a suggestion that those especially sensitive to breathing issues limit their outdoor activity), an orange alert and a red alert. Orange alerts generally happen several times each summer.
On a day such as today, with a yellow alert, residents are asked to help out by mowing in the evening, filling up with gas after dark and avoiding painting in the hottest part of the day. Driving less helps, too.