Emergency management officials and forecasters at the National Weather Service in Louisville have issued an excessive heat warning for the next four days.
According to the NWS, an excessive heat warning means a prolonged period of hot temperatures and high humidity levels are expected and it will stick around through the weekend — with highs Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the mid-90s and heat indices ranging from 100-110 degrees.
“The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are possible,” the weather service stated in a news release. “Several days of heat indices near or above 105 degrees could have a cumulative impact on some individuals, especially those who engage in prolonged outdoor work or other activities.”
In fact, extreme heat is one of the leading weather-related causes of death in the U.S. — claiming more than 600 Americans each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Experts say most heat-related illnesses occur because of overexposure to heat or over-exercising.
Knowing the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke and the difference between the two is critical (See below).
Causes for heat exhaustion include dehydration, consuming alcohol or wearing clothes that are too warm. Fatigue, nausea, headache and decreased sweat are signs to look for. Those suffering from heat exhaustion should get out of the heat, drink more fluids and take a cool bath.
Heatstroke, the more dangerous of the two illnesses, is caused by high temperatures interrupting the body’s ability to cool down. Symptoms can include a body temperature of 103 degrees of higher, rapid pulse, fever and passing out. Call 911 or seek immediate medical assistance if any of these symptoms occur.
“The interiors of vehicles can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes,” the NWS release stated, advising that folks not leave children, pets or the elderly unattended in parked vehicles. “The extended period of high heat and humidity can worsen the effects of heat stress.”
Those most affected by extreme heat are children, older adults, outside workers, the physically handicapped and pets. People are urged to check on relatives and neighbors.
To prepare for the heatwave, the CDC recommends residents stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids — preferably water — and keep to air-conditioned rooms and out of the sun.
“With warmer extreme temperatures comes the risk of overexertion, so we advise the public to take steps to keep cool and prevent harm,” Jeff Howard, Department of Public Health Commissioner, added.