Heat advisory in effect for Central Alabama

Published 12:42 pm Thursday, July 22, 2010

Those planning outdoor activities for the next few days might want to make new arrangements due to extreme heat. The National Weather Service in Birmingham has issued a heat advisory for Central Alabama effective from noon July 22 to 7 p.m. July 23.

The combination of heat and humidity will create heat index values near 105 degrees each of the advised afternoons according to the National Weather Service.

The high heat index makes heat stroke a danger. Heat stroke is the most dangerous heat-related illness and occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

To prevent heat stroke, the department advises drinking plenty of fluids, staying indoors in well air-conditioned spaces, wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and avoiding strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day.

State health officer Dr. Donald Williamson said all need to be aware of the possibility of heat stroke.

“Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency. A person with heat stroke is likely to be unconscious or unresponsive, so he or she cannot safely consume any liquids,” he said. “Under no circumstances should you give any alcohol to a person with heat stroke or any heat illness.”

Some other warning signs of heat stroke include a high body temperature, dry skin without sweating, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea and confusion.

To care for individuals suffering from heat stroke, call 911 and try to cool them as fast as possible by moving them to a shady area and using cool water to lower their body temperature.

Those with heart problems, poor circulation, diabetes, a previous stroke or obesity are at greater risk of becoming sick in hot weather. The risk may also increase among people using medications for high blood pressure, nervousness or depression.

Takenya Taylor, director of the risk communication branch at the Alabama Department of Public Health, said locals should check on the elderly during heat advisories and make sure pets have plenty of water.

“People may be walking out and feeling the heat but not be aware of the seriousness of the danger,” she said.