Heat warning prompts cooling stations in Parkersburg, Lubeck, Washington County

PARKERSBURG — High temperatures forecast in the mid-90s prompted an excessive heat warning from the National Weather Service starting at noon today until 8 p.m. Saturday.

But with a lot of moisture in the air, “it’ll feel like 102 to 110,” depending on location, said John Sikora, hydrometeorologist with the weather service’s Charleston office.

The body’s natural defense against heat is sweating, with the evaporation of that perspiration cooling the skin. But that doesn’t work as well when the air is already laden with moisture.

“It feels a lot warmer, and then with that high humidity, the body can’t evaporate your sweat to cool you down,” Sikora said.

His advice?

“You basically need to stay hydrated, wear light clothing and basically stay out of the sun,” Sikora said. “Try not to work outside if you don’t have to.”

To assist with that, two cooling stations will be open in Wood County starting today.

The Salvation Army of Parkersburg at 534 Fifth St. will be “a place for them to come in and just get cool” today and Friday, office manager Shirley Grogg said. Drinks will be available and people needing to spend the night can make arrangements with the staff, she said.

“We’re here to help people, so we don’t want people to be out in the heat if they don’t have to be,” Grogg said.

The Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department at 1340 Harris Highway is set to open at 9 a.m. today as an emergency cooling station through 10 p.m. Sunday.

“We’ll take care of whoever comes in,” Lubeck Chief Mark Stewart said. “If they need to stay all night, they’re welcome.”

Stewart said firefighters have been on a few medical calls this week to mobile homes without air conditioning. Only one was heat-related, he said, but the conditions were very uncomfortable.

“If they (haven’t) got an air conditioner, man, it’s miserable,” Stewart said.

Cooling stations in Washington County are: Reno Fire Department, 250 Cornerville Road, will be open 24 hours a day today and Saturday to provide respite during the heat wave, and The Salvation Army, 136 Front St., Marietta, will be open today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A break in the heat should come Sunday, with the arrival of more clouds as a cold front pushes through into Monday morning, Sikora said. The high Sunday is still projected to be 93, lowering to 85 on Monday.

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Excessive Heat Warning

* An excessive heat warning means a prolonged period of dangerously hot temperatures will occur. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are likely.

* People who work or spend time outside should take extra precautions. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.

* To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency; 911 should be called.

* Drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.

* Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances, especially during warm or hot weather when car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.

Source: National Weather Service

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Heat-related Illnesses and Warning Signs

* Heat cramps are muscle pains and spasms, mostly in the legs, caused by dehydration and exertion. Though not life-threatening, heat cramps can be painful. To prevent and treat heat cramps, drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic liquids, rest and stay in a cool environment.

* Heat exhaustion is caused by heavy sweating and results in not enough fluids to support vital organs. Symptoms include cool, moist, pale, flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and lack of energy. Heat exhaustion is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness, so seek medical attention and take steps to reduce the body temperature and increase hydration. These include moving to a cooler environment; drinking cool, non-alcoholic liquids; loosening or removing clothing; and cooling the body with wet towels or a cool shower or bath.

* Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition in which the individual’s body is no longer able to control its own internal temperature. Signs of heat stroke include hot, red and dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, short breathing; and high fever. Heat stroke can also cause disorientation or strange behavior, which may be more difficult to identify in an individual with dementia. Seek emergency medical attention immediately if you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing heat stroke.

Source: Ohio Department of Aging

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