Beware of heat wave hitting Kentucky

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -  Extreme hot and humid conditions are forecast in Kentucky over the next few days, prompting the National Weather Service to issue Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories across the state.


West and Central Kentucky are under an Excessive Heat Warning Thursday through Sunday evening, and until Saturday evening in Northern Kentucky.  Northeast Kentucky has an Excessive Heat Warning for Friday and Saturday.  The heat index, a measure of the combination of heat and humidity on the human body, could reach 110 in the warned areas.


A Heat Advisory is in effect for 30 or so counties in Southeast Kentucky on Friday and Saturday, where the heat index could peak at 105.


While triple-digit heat index readings are not that uncommon in Kentucky, Excessive Heat Warnings are a bit unusual.


Joe Sullivan, a forecaster with the National Weather Service Office in Louisville says the last time an Excessive Heat Warning was issued by his office was one day last August for Jefferson County, due to the urban heat island effect, where less vegetation and more buildings make urban centers warmer.  The last Excessive Heat Warning for a larger area was issued in 2012.


With triple-digit heat comes the possibility of heat-related illnesses.  State health officials have some tips on how to avoid health issues:


--Drink plenty of fluids regardless of your activity level.  You will need to drink more fluids than your thirst level indicates.  This is especially true for people age 65 or older who often have a decreased ability to respond to external temperature changes.  In addition, avoid alcoholic drinking beverages, because they will actually cause you to lose more fluid.


--Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen.  Choose lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing. In the hot sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat that will provide shade and keep the head cool.  Sunscreen should be SPF 15 or greater and should be applied 30 minutes before going out into the sun.


--Stay cool indoors.  The most efficient way to beat the heat is to stay in an air-conditioned area.  If you do not have an air conditioner, consider visiting a mall or public library.


--Limit outdoor activities.  If you must be out in the heat, try to plan your activities so that you are outdoors either before noon or in the evening. Rest periodically so your body’s thermostat has a chance to recover.


--Use a buddy system.  When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness.


--Don’t leave children or pets in vehicles.  Temperatures inside a car without open windows can reach over 150 degrees quickly, resulting in heat stroke and death.


--Check on neighbors and monitor those at high risk.  That includes children under 4 years of age, people over 65, those who are obese, people who overexert during work or exercise and those who are ill or on medication for blood pressure or diuretics.


Health officials also say to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.  They include:


--Dehydration is caused by excessive loss of water and salts from the body. Severe dehydration can become life-threatening if not treated.


--Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms often occurring in your calves, abdomen and back. Rest for several hours and drink clear juice or an electrolyte-containing drink.


--Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much water and salt from sweating during hot temperatures. Older adults, people who work outside and those with high blood pressure are most at risk for heat exhaustion. Continued exposure may lead to heat stroke, which is life threatening.


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Heat stroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by performing physical activity in hot weather. Sweating has usually stopped and your body temperature becomes too high. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition.  You should call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.

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