Precaution is urged as temps soar above 100

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2007

Weather forecasters call it &#8220hot, humid and hazy.”

Those who have to spend anytime outdoors - or in non-air-conditioned interiors –

describe this week's round of scorching temperatures as &#8220unbearable.” And it's only the beginning of August.

Greenville and Butler County are included in a variety of special watches, warnings and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. All urge caution.

A heat index - the measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature — between 103 and 109 degrees is expected for the area through mid-week.

That range ranks in the &#8220extreme caution” category and encourages residents planning to be outdoors, especially in the afternoon hours, to consume plenty of fluids, take frequent breaks and limit alcohol and caffeinated beverages.

The extremely hot weather should be taken seriously by everyone, says County Extension Director Anthony Pinkston.

&#8220You have really got to avoid dehydration, and that means plenty of fluids minus any caffeine or alcohol - they will only dehydrate your system even more,” Pinkston said.

Heat cramps (muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion), while not serious, are a warning sign your body is having trouble with the heat, he added.

&#8220Heat exhaustion occurs when you exercise heavily or work in hot humid conditions that cause you to sweat heavily. Your blood flow to the skin increases, causing a decrease in blood to your vital organs. Your body will go into a mild form of shock,” Pinkston said.

If untreated, exhaustion can become heat or sun stroke.

&#8220This is very serious. Your temperature rises out of control and brain damage or death can happen if you are not cooled down quickly,” Pinkston said.

Anyone who believes they are suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke should seek immediate medical attention.

The very young and the old should especially watch out for the heat.

Veteran weather watchers say children should be closely monitored for exhaustion if playing outdoors while the elderly should also be frequently checked. Wearing light colored and loose fitting clothing is recommended.

Pets, too, merit special attention, plenty of fresh water and shade.

When possible, everyone should stay indoors and enjoy the air conditioning when the temperatures are as high as they are right now,” Pinkston said.

For those lacking air conditioning, a trip to the Greenville-Butler County Library, a shopping excursion, catching a film at The Edge or going out with a friend to a local restaurant are all enjoyable ways to cool down.

If you have to do strenuous activities, &#8220do them in the coolest part of the day between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.,” Pinkston said.

High temperatures for the first week of August have averaged an oppressive 97 degrees.

Little change appears likely with highs remaining in the mid- to high 90s and nighttime lows in the mid- to upper 70s. While there are chances of isolated showers and even an occasionally moderate downpour each afternoon, the likelihood of severe weather is low and the elevated heat index will probably continue throughout the week.

&#8220Exceptional” drought conditions continue north of Greenville.

Local rainfall totals for July were back to near normal after a dry May and June.

Precipitation fell on 14 of the month's 31 days with the accumulation of 5.19 inches only .12 of an inch below normal.

Though the 100-degree day registered July 1 set a new record, temperatures generally were also cooler with highs averaging 91.7 or a full degree below normal.

Traditionally, August is one of the year's hottest months. Historic record highs for all days but two topped the 100-degree mark.

As long as the heat wave continues, Pinkston encourages a diet high in green leafy vegetables, veggies and fruits and light in protein, &#8220and keep drinking lots of water. Stay as cool as you can.”