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Be Careful, It's Hot Outside!

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   Northwest Florida and south Alabama will continue to swelter this weekend, with the calls going out for residents to protect themselves.

You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know it’s hot and humid outside. But to confirm, here’s Steve Miller at the National Weather Service in Mobile.

“We are looking at heat indices topping out in the 100-105 degree range over most of the area, with a few spots seeing around 110,” said Miller, who added that the cause of the heat and humidity are relatively close by.

“We have a high pressure ridge over the northern Gulf of Mexico, with part of the ridge building over the southern Plains,” Miller said. “Combined with the flow off the Gulf, it’s just keeping the low-level moisture levels high. It’s our typical ‘Summer Soupie.’”

Health problems related to high temps and humidity include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and the most serious, heat stroke. Daniel Hahn at Santa Rosa County Emergency Management says one of the first clues that something is wrong is when perspiration shuts down.

“When you stop sweating, you’ve stopped the capacity to get rid of heat,” Hahn says. “Another thing that happens is loss of mental capacity. Other signs are maybe nausea [and] vomiting.”

Move quickly and get the victim out of the sun; loosen their clothing, give water, and apply cool, wet cloths. Seek medical attention if the symptoms persist. Hahn urges everyone to keep abreast of weather conditions and stay indoors as much as possible.

Heat and humidity affect different people differently. But some are especially vulnerable -- infants and young children; people age 65 and older, and those with heart disease, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments. Hahn also says to take care of pets, as in leaving them at home when you run errands. The heat building up inside a parked car on a summer day can reach 130 degrees.

“You can go to almost every parking lot, walk around, and see pets left in cars,” said Hahn. “Making sure they’ve got shade if they’re an outdoor pet; letting them come in when it’s really hot [and] making sure they have lots of clean, fresh water.”

Many of Gulf Power Company’s more than 430,000 customers likely will see the impact of the stifling weather in their upcoming electric bills. The utility advises keeping A/C units at around 78 degrees. And there are a number of programs to help out listed at www.gulfpower.com.

And don’t look for Mother Nature to be much help the next few days. Forecaster Steve Miller says there’s only about a 20 percent chance of a shower or thunderstorm, while daytime temperatures will stay put.

“At this point, we may see temperatures moderating down into the lower 90s,” Miller said. “Inland, remaining into the low- to mid-90s through the rest of the forecast period.” 

Older residents who feel they need help in coping with the heat can call a help line, which is run by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. That number is 800-96-ELDER, or 800-963-5337.