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Soaring Temperatures in AR Pose Potential for Heat-Related Illnesses


Friday, June 17, 2022   

Temperatures across Arkansas this weekend will continue to be in the high 90s, as a heat wave hangs on in the region, and health officials are warning people to be cautious and stay cool as they plan activities.

With hotter temperatures and high humidity come greater chances of heat-related illnesses, from heat stroke to heat exhaustion.

Dr. Bala Simon, deputy chief medical officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, said people at higher risk for these health scares include young children, older adults, and people with disabilities or who are taking certain medications. He added a wide range of symptoms can signal trouble.

"It can manifest anywhere from having heavy sweating, feeling tired, nauseated or having muscle cramps and all the way to having hot, red, dry skin and passing out, losing consciousness," Simon outlined.

In 2021, Arkansas saw 54 deaths due to heat-related illness.

The heat wave is the result of a heat dome slowly shifting east across the central U.S. This weekend, community centers throughout Little Rock will have cooling rooms open for residents without access to air conditioning.

Simon pointed out heat-related illnesses are preventable. A big factor in body temperature regulation is sweating, which helps the body cool off. But when it's humid, he explained, sweat does not evaporate and can lead to people becoming overheated. He added there are small things anyone can do to stay cool.

"Try [to] avoid going out during the hot time, like either between 10 or 11 through 5 to 6 o'clock in the evening," Simon recommended. "Stay indoors during those times, preferably in an air-conditioned environment where your body is in an optimal temperature; and drinking enough water."

Simon also advised people who are outdoors this weekend to wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher. Residents can call 211 for assistance and referrals to cooling centers.

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