According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 700 Americans die each year from extreme heat. With Missouri temperatures rising to dangerous levels there are precautions Sedalians can take to avoid overheating.
T.J. Henry works on a road crew directing cars and knows hydration is key to preventing hyperthermia, the condition of having a body temperature greatly above normal.
“That cooler right over there,” Henry said, “I fill it up with ice, fill it up with liquids and just try and find as much shade as I can. In this weather when it gets 97 to 100 degrees there’s not much you can do unless you're inside of a car or a house, so I just drink a lot of liquid to stay hydrated.”
Justin Cross is the Division Chief of Training at the Pettis County Ambulance District. Cross agrees that hydration is the most important way of preventing heat-related illnesses.
“Especially in the next couple of days when it's going to be 95 or 100 degrees you need to stay hydrated,” said Cross. “Staying hydrated doesn’t just mean drinking pop or anything like that. Water is the most important thing to staying hydrated.”
Cross knows the symptoms of dehydration and urges people to take precautions and look for the signs they may be overheating.
“This time of the year it comes down to improper hydration or not realizing you've been out too long and you haven't hydrated properly,” Cross warned. “It takes quite a bit of fluid to stave off dehydration in this type of weather. Sweating is your friend, actually, it helps cool your body. We talk about heatstroke vs. heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is what we run most of the time. People get sick, light-headed, and dizzy. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency and that's when the person loses the ability to sweat. Their normal body temperature’s regulating system is not able to function anymore. The best way to fight that is to limit your exposure to the sun and stay hydrated. Alcohol and carbonated beverages are going to expedite the dehydration process, so stay away from that or limit them if you are going to be outside. Water is the best way to go.”
Steven Gentry takes his son Calvin to the park earlier in the day and makes sure to watch out for hot playground equipment as it can quickly burn skin.
“We have a lot of trees here at Liberty Park to cover the playground so everything's nice and cool,” said Gentry. “I get him out here and he gets to play and doesn't get hurt, doesn't get any burns. Due to the hot weather in the afternoon, we don't go outside, we stay at home. He needs to go outside and burn up energy and he wants to play on the playground so I thought it'd be a good time to get it done earlier before we go home and stay in for the day.”
Dr. Chad McNeil at Thompson Hills Animal Clinic has precautions that apply to both children and pets alike.
“When the sun's up like this in the 90s we've got to be mindful,” said McNeil. “We let our pets out certainly early in the morning and late in the evening. At midday, we just have to be on the cautious side. The biggest thing that everybody knows is just don't forget, like with our children, to always check the backseat if you're in the car and you go somewhere. It's just too hot and even in just a few minutes cars are well up over 100 degrees and dogs and cats can really suffer.”
Clara Scott is the Aquatics Supervisor for Sedalia Parks and Recreation and watches for everyone’s health at the pool, even the lifeguards.
“With the heat index being what it is, the lifeguards are especially watching for signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke,” Scott said. “The lifeguards have umbrellas on their stands so they’re in the shade but they also have a hat for extra protection. While they're on the stand the manager goes around as well and makes sure they always have water and lets them dip in the pool if they need to stay cool.”
Clothes can make a big difference, and at Vincent’s Footwear and Apparel Janet Vincent has stylish ways of dressing while staying cool.
“Loose-fitting tops, shorts obviously, you want to look for some fabrications that are not too slick, something that's breathable, so it might have a little cotton in it,” said Vincent. “A loose fit is going to be a lot cooler than something snug and tight. Hats are absolutely something to wear in this type of heat because you do want to protect your skin. Your facial skin will either tell how old you are or lie for you, so sunscreen is always good. White does reflect the light and keeps you cooler. Black absorbs the heat and though it does make you look thinner, you must decide; thinner versus cooler.”