Staying safe and cool in a Minneapolis heatwave

Dangerous heat expected through Friday

With the extreme temperatures, it is important to stay informed to keep safe.

The forecast through Saturday includes high temperatures in the lower and upper 90s, with the heat index as high as 113 degrees on July 21.

National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Borghoff advised a focus on safety. The last time the Twin Cities experienced this kind of heat was on the Fourth of July in 2012.

“We’re going to have a front come in Thursday, and temperatures will bounce in the mid-90s on Friday,” Borghoff said. “We have an (excessive heat) warning going through Friday. Saturday we will have quite a few clouds, so the heat should break by Friday night, (with) conditions really improving by Sunday.”

These high temperatures place everyone at risk, even pets. In a press release, the City of Minneapolis reminded residents to drink plenty of water, limit outdoor activities, especially anything strenuous, and avoid direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Stay indoors as much as possible. Air conditioning is the best way to stay protected from heat-related illnesses. The city released a list of publicly accessible air-conditioned buildings ahead of the heatwave.

Common heat-related illnesses are heat exhaustion and heatstroke. The body cools by evaporating sweat, but on hot, humid days, sweat doesn’t evaporate easily due to the air’s higher moisture content.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, dizziness, confusion, weakness, nausea, headache, abnormally fast heartbeat and dark-colored urine. If any of these symptoms occur, get to a safe, cool place, drink water or other fluids without sugar or alcohol and remove unnecessary clothing to cool quickly.

Symptoms should subside within 30 minutes. If not, contact a doctor. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can progress to heatstroke.

Symptoms of heatstroke are similar to symptoms of heat exhaustion, but worse: lack of sweating, fast breathing, severe headache, fever of 104 degrees, vomiting and seizures.

If someone has heatstroke, call emergency medical personnel. In the meantime, take the person to a safe, cool area, remove unnecessary clothing, fan him or her while applying cool water to skin and, if available, place ice packs to the person’s armpits, groin, neck and back.

Ice packs are the most effective method of cooling heatstroke. It is important to take action immediately. Left untreated, heatstroke will lead to death.

James Miner, chief of emergency medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center and professor of emergency medicine at the University of Minnesota, expects a lot of people to get sick.

It is not very common for people to be treated for heat-related illnesses unless it is very hot, Miner said, and it is going to be very hot.

“One of the important things is that it’s not that hot here in Minnesota, so your body is not acclimated to the heat,” Miner said. “Take every opportunity to cool off if you’re feeling warm.”

Events are still on for the annual Aquatennial, but there will be precautions.

“Participant safety is the top concern for us,” Aquatennial spokesperson Phil Ervin said. “We want to do everything we can so everyone can have a safe and enjoyable weekend. We encourage everyone to take every precaution that they can, and we want to provide opportunities to do so, [like] free water stations at the parade [tonight].”

For more information on how to stay cool, visit minneapolismn.gov/news/WCMSP-183401.

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