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Heat wave on the way

Krystle Wagner • Jun 29, 2018 at 7:00 AM

As temperatures rise, officials encourage everyone to take precautions.

The National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids issued an excessive heat watch for Ottawa County that is in effect this afternoon through Saturday night. While inland areas could reach 90 degrees today, areas along the lakeshore could be a little cooler because of the lake, said NWS meteorologist Nathan Jeruzal.

On Saturday, inland temperatures are expected to reach the 90s again and could see a heat index of more than 100. Jeruzal noted it’s concerning for people who don’t have air conditioning, are homeless or older residents, and people who have ailments.

Other counties included in the excessive heat watch include Muskegon, Montcalm, Gratiot, Kent, Ionia, Clinton, Allegan, Barry, Eaton, Ingham, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun and Jackson.

Dr. Lisa Hoekstra, medical director for North Ottawa Urgent Care, said it’s important to note the heat index.

“When the humidity is high, your sweat can’t evaporate as easily and your body has more difficulty cooling itself, making you prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke,” she said. “When the heat index is above 90, you should take precautions to keep cool.”

In addition to taking precautions to avoid a sunburn, you should take note of signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, cold/pale/clammy skin, dizziness, headache, fast/weak pulse, tiredness, fainting, muscle cramps, and vomiting or nausea.

Children younger than 4 and adults 65 and older are at a higher risk of heat exhaustion, Hoekstra said.

Symptoms of heat stroke include a body temperature of more than 103, fast/strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, red/hot/dry or damp skin, confusion, and lost of consciousness.

Hoekstra said it’s important to remember to wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing, protect against sunburn, drink fluids, and take precautions if you take certain medication.

She also reminds people to never leave anyone in a parked car.

Hoekstra encourages people to take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. She explained that bodies cool off by sweating and sweat evaporating helps regulate your body temperature, and being dehydrated reduces your body’s ability to sweat and maintain normal temperature.

“Staying well hydrated when it is hot outside, particularly when you are exercising in the heat, reduces the risk of heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses,” Hoekstra said.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration also reminds workers to take precautions during a heat wave. The agency recommends taking frequent breaks in a shady or cool environment, and drink water every 15 minutes.

While it’s still expected to be warm Sunday, there may be some relief. Jeruzal said there is a chance of rain moving into the area Sunday. 

Looking ahead to the Fourth of July, Jeruzal said we can expect it to be warm and dry.

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