The long Memorial Day weekend will be a lot hotter than normal with temperatures forecast in the mid-90s to near 100 degrees.

And the heat index is predicted to be much higher, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. There’s even the possibility that forecast could linger several days beyond the holiday weekend.

Some weather experts have said that a lot of Georgia could experience some of the hottest weather seen in 30 to 40 years.

“It’s going to be a lot hotter than usual for this time of the year in middle Georgia,” said Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency Director Wayne Johnson. “And people definitely need to use precautions to keep themselves from having to visit the emergency room of the local hospital or worse. We could have a lot of record-breaking temperatures over the next several days.”

Johnson said anyone who doesn’t need to be outside should stay inside or at least limit outdoor activities.

He also provided a reminder for pet owners.

“Please make sure they have plenty of water,” Johnson said.

The high temperatures, coupled with the heat index, over the next several days should be taken very seriously, according to Dr. Rebecca Gay, director of the Emergency Department at Navicent Health Baldwin hospital in Milledgeville.

“With the Memorial Day weekend (upon) us, I think it’s important that everyone use caution and understand the risk of heat-related illnesses,” Gay said. “The heat poses an extra threat. It takes about eight to 10 days before someone is acclimated to the heat. So, when we have a heat wave such as the one coming up this weekend, we have a higher related incidence of heat exhaustion and heat strokes.”

Gay said there are some ways of helping prevent such from happening.

One way is simply to limit exposure to the heat, she said.

“You can stay hydrated and limit alcohol use, and limit your caffeine intake,” Gay said.

The elderly and babies are at higher risks of heat exhaustion and heat strokes, she pointed out.

Babies are included in that medical fact because they can’t sweat as much.

“So, it’s important to keep them cool and out of the sun,” Gay said. “Also remember that babies die in cars. It’s usually due to distraction from a parent or parents. But it only takes 15 minutes for your car to climb to a temperature of 109 degrees and that’s even with the windows cracked.”

Every year, 36 children die across the country resulting from being left in hot vehicles.

“So, it’s important to remember ways that you can prevent that from happening,” Gay said. “There’s even new technology that can help out there — like new apps on your cellphone that can remind you that your child or children are in the back seat.”

She said heat exhaustion and heat stroke are common at the ER in this type of weather.

“Heat stroke is the most common heat-related illness,” Gay said. “It happens when the body is unable to cool itself down.”

In such cases, a body can rise to a temperature of 106 degrees or higher within a period of 15 minutes, she said.

“It can be fatal if emergency treatment isn’t given,” Gay said.

She provided the symptoms of a heat stroke:

* Include confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech, unresponsiveness.

* The skin can be hot and dry and there could be profuse sweating.

It could even cause seizures.

Anyone who suspects that someone has suffered a heat stroke should call 911.

“And make sure you stay with that person until 911 gets there,” Gay said. “In the meantime, move them to a cool, shady area, and take off their outer layer clothing. You can soak the clothing in cold water and then put the cool clothing over them with fans blowing on them. It will cool them down in a more rapid fashion.”

Heat exhaustion is the less serious heat-related illness.

“That’s the body’s excessive loss of water and salt, usually from excessing sweating,” Gay said.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps and a decrease of urine output, Gay said.

“When you’re not urinating as much as normal that may be the first clue that you are suffering from heat exhaustion,” Gay added.

Again, drink more water.

“And you want to avoid the salt tablets,” Gay stressed. “If the muscle cramps last longer than an hour, you should seek emergency help.”

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