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Take precautions during hot weather

The Examiner staff

The Kansas City area’s first significant heat wave of the year is likely Tuesday through Friday, the National Weather Service says.

Highs each day could be in the low 90s, and the heat index could reach the mid-90s. That’s below the threshold of what the Weather Service calls dangerous, but the agency does advise “extreme caution” when the heat index is that high.

Officials remind people that this is a good time to take it easy. Do yard work and other outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day. Drink plenty of water or even sports drinks. Caffeine is not a great idea, and alcohol even less so. Wear sunscreen. Wear loose-fitting clothing and a hat. Take breaks in the shade.

Also: Never leave a child, a disabled person or a pet locked in a vehicle – even for a minute.

Hundreds of Americans die of heat-related illness each year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so it’s important to know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion symptoms include cramps, fatigue, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and fainting. A person’s skin can still feel cool and moist, but the pulse is fast and weak and breathing is rapid and shallow.

Move a person with heat exhaustion into a cooler place, with a fan or air-conditioning if possible. Offer sips of water. Have the person lie down and loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible. If the person vomits more than once, the Weather Service says, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat stroke is more serious than heat exhaustion. It can be fatal.

Symptoms include a rapid, strong pulse; hot, red and dry skin; a throbbing headache; and a body temperature of 103 as well as dizziness, nausea, confusion and loss of consciousness.

Very high body temperatures can damage the brain or other vital organs, and in severe cases organ system failure can lead to death.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency, the Weather Service stresses, so call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Get the person into a cooler place, and reduce body temperature with cool cloths. Don’t give fluids.