LAURINBURG — It’s going to be scorching over the next few days.
The National Weather Service in Raleigh issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Scotland County that begins today and runs through Sunday. Temperatures will hover in the upper 90s and the heat index will soar to almost 110 degrees, as summer officially begins on Thursday.
With the extreme heat, health officials at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services are urging the public to take extra precautions against heat-related illnesses as daytime temperatures are predicted to be in the mid-to-upper-90s the rest of the week.
The North Carolina Heat Report, published weekly by NC Public Health, found that 659 people in the state have been treated for a heat-related illness since May 1. Nineteen percent of all visits were seen at hospitals in the Sandhills region.
The Sandhills includes Scotland, Richmond, Robeson, Bladen, Cumberland, Moore, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery and Harnett counties.
The most common reasons given when visiting the emergency room were for recreation such as yard work or working outdoors doing landscaping, construction work and roofing. Men, age 25 to 44, accounted for 65 percent of the patients seen for heat-related illness.
People are encouraged to find an air-conditioned shelter during the middle of the day, avoid direct sunlight, wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and take cool showers or baths.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention people with poor circulation, heart disease, mental illness and obesity are at an increased risk of developing a heat-related illness.
Heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, happen when the body is not able to properly cool itself. While the body normally cools itself by sweating, during extreme heat, this might not be enough, according to the CDC. In these cases, a person’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down. This can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs.
Warning signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, fast, weak pulse, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and fainting. Administering first aid to someone suffering from heat exhaustion includes moving them to a cooler environment, laying them down and applying cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible.
Heat stroke is more serious form of heat-related illness and symptoms associated with it include an altered mental state, a body temperate above 103ºF, loss of consciousness and a rapid, strong pulse.
Someone that is experiencing heat stroke needs help immediately and 911 should be contacted. People are reminded to not give fluids to someone suffering from a heat stroke, get them into an air-conditioned environment and wait for emergency medical personnel to arrive.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]