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The heat is on

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

With weather patterns mirroring the El Nino of 1997, summer is finally bearing down on Central Texas. Despite an unusually mild and damp May and June, the mercury has begun to climb, triggering the standard Texas summer dangers.

According to meteorologist Burton Fitzsimmons, this July is tracking to be one

of the driest months on record, in a four-way tie for record-breaking dry weather, which could create wildfire dangers throughout rural communities.

Caldwell County Emergency Management Coordinator Martin Ritchey notified the Caldwell County Commissioners on Monday that rural fire departments are beginning to see a rise in grass and pasture fires, and warned the community of the dangers that come with dry weather.

“Because we had so much rain this spring and early this summer, the fuel has been growing,” he said. “And now, it’s starting to dry out, as well as the fuel under that grass.”

Though he did not advocate enacting a burn ban yet, Ritchey did remind property owners they should refrain from burning brush or trash during days of high wind, and they should never leave a fire unattended.

Should County residents choose to burn, they should first contact the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department at (512) 398-6777, to ensure that no Red Flag Warnings or temporary burn bans are in place. Additionally, a water source should be on hand to extinguish any sparks or stray fires before they become unmanageable.

If a property owner lights a fire that goes out of control, that property owner could be held legally and financially liable for damages to others’ property.

In addition to property dangers, the Dog Days bring health challenges, as those who work and play outdoors have increased exposure to heat-related illnesses.

Heat-related illnesses are triggered when the human body loses the ability to transfer enough heat, through sweating or blood flow to the skin, to keep cool. They are most common when people are in enclosed spaces, such as hot cars, attics or other poorly-ventilated areas, but can also occur as a result of over-exertion and poor hydration.

Muscle cramping is often the first sign of a heat-related illness. The cramping is caused because the body loses hydration and electrolytes through excessive sweating. Other warning signs include heavy sweating, weakness, nausea or vomiting.

If sweating stops while strenuous activity continues, this is considered a medical emergency and treatment should be sought immediately.

Often, heat stress and heat stroke are thought to be only suffered by those working outdoors. However, children “playing hard” outdoors during the summer are also often victim to heat-related illness, and should be monitored for water intake, and made to come indoors and cool off frequently during the summer months.

This weekend’s temperatures are expected to climb to the triple digits, with heat indexes expected well over 105 degrees. Temperatures in excess of 100 are expected to continue through the remainder of July, and likely well into August.

If you feel you are having a heat-related emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.


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