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Home News-Telegram News Emergency coordinator warns of dangerous heat wave; high pressure system pushing North Texas temps up to 108

Emergency coordinator warns of dangerous heat wave; high pressure system pushing North Texas temps up to 108

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The city’s emergency management coordinator is warning local residents to heed warnings from the National Weather Service about the heat wave bearing down on North Texas. With apparent temperatures expected to eclipse 110 degrees in parts of the region, this is not the time to be doing any big jobs outdoors in the afternoon, said Robert Stidham, director of emergency management in Sulphur Springs.

“It’s going to be pretty hot this weekend and the first part of next week,” said Stidham, who is also the city's assistant police chief. “If you have any work to do outside, it’s best to do it in the early morning hours while it’s relatively cool.”

Forecasters in the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth issued a hazardous weather outlook today, warning of afternoon heat indices between 105 and 110 degrees  for all of North Texas.

An upper level high pressure system is blamed for putting the heat on the area, boosting thermometers to between 99 and 108 degrees.

“Combined with the humidity, expect afternoon heat index values to between 105 and 110 degrees,” forecasters warned. “In addition, overnight lows will struggle to cool below 80 degrees across many locations.”

That was the case today in Sulphur Springs. By noon the heat index was hovering dangerously close to triple digits, with the worst of the day’s high temperature still some five hours away. (The highest heat of the day in Sulphur Springs is usually recorded between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.)

The heat wave isn’t going away anytime soon, either — the daily high is forecast to be at least 100 degrees in Sulphur Springs each day until Wednesday, when it’s expected to drop to 98.

The oppressive heat isn’t being helped much by overnight cooling, either. At sunrise today (6:22 a.m.), the temperature was already at 81 degrees. With relative humidity at 76 percent, that put the heat index value at 85.7. The heat index was over 91 by 9 a.m.

The high temperatures may fool some people into thinking their air conditioning units are about to go on the fritz, Stidham added. But the truth is, some A/C units simply weren’t made to work that well when the mercury goes above 108 degrees.

“If you’re worried about your air conditioning is not functioning properly, it’s normal that the AC is anywhere from 20 to 25 degrees cooler than the outside temperature,” Stidham said.

About the only alternative, aside from springing a few thousand dollars to install a bigger air conditioner, is to buy some fans to help move the air around.

“Turn on some fans and circulate the air a little better,” he said.

While temperatures may be a little less comfy than normal indoors in such a heat wave, the real danger lurks outside. The weather service reminds people that young people and pets should NEVER be left unattended in vehicles.

“This is especially true during hot weather when the inside of vehicles can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes, despite cracking windows or previously having used air-conditioning,” forecasters warned in a heat advisory issued this morning.

For those who simply have no option but to work outside, Stidham said, diligence, preparedness and awareness are the keys to avoiding potentially deadly conditions like heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

“If you’ve got to work outside, you need to be hydrated,” he explained. “If you’re thirsty, it’s a little bit too late.”

The assistant chief suggests keeping Gatorade and similar sports drinks around to replenish fluids, electrolytes and other components your body’s natural cooling system craves.

Stidham also recommends watching out for the other people you work with outside.

“If you see them starting to get flushed or dizzy or stumble a little bit dizzy, tell them to take a break, go sit under a shade tree for a little while and get a cold drink of water,” he said.

And don’t douse yourself with cold water if you’re hot.

“That’s a good way to pass out,” Stidham said.

In fact, when doctors treat heat stroke victims in emergency rooms, they’ll normally try to cool people by stripping off clothes, blowing air over them with fans and bathing them with lukewarm water. Dousing with ice-cold water can lead to shivering, which actually warms the body more.

Better to apply water or cold, wet rags to the joints and neck and wrists to cool down the blood as it goes through your circulatory system.

“But the key is to keep yourself hydrated,” Stidham said. “And if you see a lizard crossing the road and it stops in the middle of the street and starts panting, it’s time to go home.”

 

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