Chambers County braces for more extreme temperatures

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, August 2, 2023

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Summer is always a time for sandals and sunscreen, but like the rest of the country, Chambers County has seen severe heat the past few months.

According to Chambers County EMA, the high pressure is likely to cause more excessive heat in the next few days. There may be another heat advisory for Chambers County by the end of the week. 

With the extreme heat unlikely to fade soon, Chambers County EMA Deputy Director Kathy Hornsby had some tips for preventing and recognizing heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

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The Danger of heat exposure is highest when high temperatures persist for more than one day. 

“It doesn’t give our bodies time to cool down,” Hornsby said. 

However, with excessive heat and humidity, people working outside or sitting in a car are more likely to feel the effects. High heat and humidity can create heat islands.

Hornsby said it is important to recognize the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke and respond as soon as possible. 

Heat exhaustion can cause weakness, dizziness, heavy sweating and nausea. Hornsby said those exhibiting these symptoms should be immediately moved to a cool place and slowly cooled off with water and removing clothes. 

Someone with heat stroke can exhibit signs of confusion and may become unconscious. Hornsby said heat stroke victims need immediate attention and bystanders should call 911. 

“Heat-related deaths are preventable,” Hornsby said. 

Hornsby advised people to check on older neighbors and friends who don’t have sufficient air conditioning in their homes. She said community members should take shelter at the community center or other public places with access to air conditioning. 

“There are a lot of people who if they have to choose between feeding themselves or their kids that night or buying a fan, they’re going to feed their kids,” Hornsby said. “That’s just an unfortunate fact of life.”

To avoid heat-related illness, Hornsby said people should avoid strenuous outdoor activity and stay hydrated with electrolytes. For doing manual labor in the heat, Hornsby suggested freezing a wet handtowel overnight and placing it on the back of the neck to keep cool.

“Darker clothes and tighter clothes hold your body heat in more thereby making you more susceptible to heat exhaustion or a heat stroke,” Hornsby said. “And drink water often. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to do that.”

Hornsby also said people should never leave a child or animal unattended in a car. When it’s 80 degrees outside, the inside of a car can reach 109 degrees in 20 minutes and 123 degrees in one hour. 

A minor heat outlook alerts people to an excessive heat event coming in the next three to seven days. Heat watches signal an excessive heat event is coming in 12 to 48 hours. A major heat warning or advisory alerts people that an excessive heat event is coming in the next 36 hours. 

Heat advisories and other severe weather conditions can be monitored on the Chambers County, Alabama EMA Facebook page or on the National Weather Service Birmingham website. 

“Stay safe. Stay hydrated,” Hornsby said.