Summer heat is announcing its presence with authority this week, with an opening shot of 100 degree heat Monday.
On that day, City of Newton Street crews were starting their week with projects that include laying down hot asphalt on a couple of streets in the northern portion of town.
Combine the 100 degree heat with working over a 350 degree pot of asphalt, and their work can get dangerous.
“We look out for each other,” said Kim Keazer, street services supervisor.
The mercury made it to nearly 100 degrees Monday, with the five day forecast calling for 101 Tuesday followed by 100 degrees Wednesday. Highs of 98 and 91 degrees round out the predictions for the week.
Those are temperatures that do not factor in a heat index — which includes factors like humidity that can make it feel even hotter outside. According to the National Weather Service, afternoon heat indices of 100 to 105 are forecast Tuesday, and around 100 for Wednesday and Thursday.
The city supplies workers with jugs, ice and cold water. They also encourage street workers to take frequent breaks during the heat. Those actions are in line with recommendations by healthcare professionals including the Mayo Clinic and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“We drink lots of water and take extra breaks if needed,” Keazer said. “ … We have not had a problem in streets.”
This week, they have also changed the schedule. Hot mix asphalt is being placed in the morning, with prep work done the previous day on each project scheduled this week. All of those heat mitigation steps have kept the department away from heat strokes for more than 20 years.
According to the Mayo Clinic, untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.
The clinic recommends staying in air conditioned buildings during the heat of the day — but if that is not available to drink plenty of fluids, taking breaks and knowing where medical attention can be given in the case of overheating.
For those who can not afford air conditioning in their home, the Harvey County Salvation Army has box fans available to help with cooling down a home. To apply for a fan, visit 208 W. Sixth or call 283-3190.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a heat advisory, along with risk warnings, for the state of Kansas on Monday morning.
According to the department, there is a high risk of “heat stress” during this week of triple-digit high temperatures. There is also a risk of heat stroke, which can lead to serious health problems.
Signs of the most severe heat-related illness, heat stroke, include a body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit; hot, red, dry or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; and altered mental status which can range from confusion and agitation to unconsciousness. Call 911 immediately and take steps to cool the person.
Victims of heat stress may experience heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, and clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; and nausea or vomiting. Early signs include muscle cramps, heat rash, fainting or near-fainting spells, and a pulse or heart rate greater than 100.
According to the department, victims of heat stress should be moved to a cooler location to lie down. Apply cool, wet cloths to the body especially to head, neck, arm pits and upper legs near the groin area where combined 70 percent of body heat can be lost; and have the person sip water. They should remain in the cool location until recovered with a pulse heart rate is well under 100 beats per minute.
To help prevent heat-related illness:
· Spend time in locations with air-conditioning when possible.
· Drink plenty of fluids. Good choices are water and diluted sport electrolyte drinks (1 part sport drink to 2 parts water) unless told otherwise by a doctor.
· Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
· Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours