By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
If you were like me, you probably spent at least a portion of the Fourth of July holiday outdoors. And if you’re also like me, it probably felt like our South Texas sun was packing quite a punch over the long weekend. That’s because it was.
It didn’t matter which local TV news station you tuned into, once those 7-day forecasts were on the screen the expected temperatures looked more like a string of binary than an estimation of the daily highs, what with a solid line of “100 100 100 100 100 100 100” displayed in close succession to one another.
The entire region has been under a near-constant heat advisory. In the westernmost stretches of the Valley, those high temps were substantially higher, but even we here on the coast weren’t spared. Looking at the Weather Underground forecast just now, I saw the temperature in Port Isabel is hovering in the low 90s, but the heat index is a whopping 108 degrees.
Such high temperatures make it a challenge to venture outside for more than a few minutes at a time. For those of us who grew up here, the heat is as familiar to us as the palm trees that line the freeways, but we shouldn’t let that familiarity allow us to become complacent to the dangers associated with the heat.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to stay hydrated. We lose so much moisture from our bodies as the sweat they produce evaporates to cool us down. It’s so humid outside that it can feel like that sweat never actually evaporates, but you’d be surprised how much water your body loses after just an hour in the sun.
Learn to listen to the signals your body sends when it is distressed due to the heat. The National Weather Service lists the warning signs for both heat exhaustion and heat stroke at weather.gov/heat.
If you feel faint, dizzy or nauseous, or experience muscle cramps, your body may be experiencing heat exhaustion. Take action immediately to cool down. Go inside an air-conditioned building, drink water, apply cool compresses or hop in the shower with the water running cool.
If you’re outside on a hot day and you notice that somebody has stopped sweating, has a throbbing headache, a fast pulse, and is nauseous or vomiting, it’s no joking matter. Those are all signs that their body is under extreme heat-related stress called heat stroke. It’s vital that the person is cooled via the aforementioned methods. Also, call 911 and get that person help as soon as possible. Heat stroke can be fatal.
The dangers of heat can be extremely deceptive. I know I’ve fallen prey to the idea that I’m a little more “immune” so to speak, because I’m a Valley native and am well acclimated to the conditions here. The truth of the matter is that no one is immune. Whether it’s a full day covering football two-a-days in August or enjoying a beachside barbecue with family and friends, any time spent outdoors during a South Texas summer is time you need to be careful.
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