It’s too darn hot: High temps bring risksThe temperature hit 90 and kept rising Monday, as the first salvo of summer heat hit Jamestown with a heat index of 102.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
The temperature hit 90 and kept rising Monday, as the first salvo of summer heat hit Jamestown with a heat index of 102.
“It could have been even warmer today, if that band of clouds hadn’t moved through,” said Bill Abeling, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck, Monday afternoon.
Though temperatures will stay high for the remainder of the week, Abeling expected that the worst of the heat and humidity had already occurred on Monday.
Temperatures will be three to five degrees cooler today and slightly drier, and by the time Friday rolls around, the air should cool down into the comparatively balmy mid-80s, Abeling said.
The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels outside. It is determined by the temperature and the level of moisture in the air, which makes it harder for the body to cool itself.
John Wheeler, meteorologist with WDAY, said he did not consider the warm snap a true heat wave, but that it could become fairly unpleasant for people without air conditioning.
“It’s going to be fairly warm and fairly sticky all week,” Wheeler said. “… it’s the first real round of dew points around 70, and if you don’t have air conditioning, you’ll lay in your bed at night and sweat.”
The warm temperatures and damp air mean people are especially at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“Heat stroke can occur very rapidly, actually,” said Jenna Bredahl, a registered nurse and quality manager at Jamestown Regional Medical Center. “People need to keep this in mind in the hot weather, and pay attention to some of the warning signs.”
To prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke, people should stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible, drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol and caffeine and wear loose, light-weight clothing, Bredahl said. They shouldn’t exert themselves too much and if working outdoors, should pace themselves and take cool showers if needed.
And people living alone should make sure they have people to check on them, just in case. People with chronic or mental illnesses, the elderly and the very young are especially at risk, Bredahl said, but heat-related illnesses can happen to anyone.
People suspecting they have heat stroke — the most severe heat-related illness — should call 911, Bredahl said. In the meantime, they can be cooled with damp cloths, moved to a cooler place or given cool water to drink.
Symptoms include an absence of sweat, headache, irritability, dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea and rapid, shallow breathing.
“Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness, but heat exhaustion (is) your body’s way of saying ‘you have to slow down, you could be heading to heat stroke,’” Bredahl said.
People suspecting they have heat exhaustion should head off heat stroke by going to a cool place, either indoors with air conditioning or in the shade, and drink plenty of water, or take a cool bath, Bredahl advised.
Staying aware of potential warning signs can help people avoid the problem altogether.
“It’s just amazing how fast it can happen,” Bredahl said.
Keeping pets safe
Heat-related illnesses don’t just happen to humans, either.
“It seems like dogs are far more likely to have heatstroke than cats, but certainly, outdoor cats can have problems too,” said Dr. Dawn Entzminger, a veterinarian at Dr. Dawn’s Pet Stop.
People can add ice to pets’ water bowls to keep them cool, and keep shade available. For pets that like water, a cheap plastic children’s pool can help them stay cool, Entzminger said.
Taking a dog for a walk should be done early in the morning or late at night when it’s cooler.
Bulldogs and related breeds with short muzzles already have breathing issues, so they might have a particularly hard time in the heat, Entzminger said. And just like humans, the very old and very young pets are more susceptible to heat problems.
In dogs and cats, heat problems can manifest as excessive panting or difficulty catching breath. Sometimes they drool excessively or become weak, Entzminger said.
Dark-colored animals reach a higher temperature quicker than light-colored ones, noted Dr. Barb Looysen, a veterinarian at Country Acres Veterinary Clinic.
Pets should be given lots of water on hot days.
“Make sure they have three times what you would normally provide for the day,” Looysen said. “And it should be fresh water, daily, not water that’s been sitting out in the heat for days.”
Pets should never, ever be left for any amount of time in a car with windows rolled up in summer weather, Looysen warned, and even with the window cracked, it takes just minutes for the temperature in a car to rise.
Even in 70-degree weather, it takes only 10 minutes for a car’s interior to hit 89 degrees, according to a chart of air temperatures in vehicle interiors that was provided by Entzminger.
And when it’s 90 degrees outside, a car will hit 109 degrees in 10 minutes and 119 in 20 minutes.
Then there’s the sun. Light or white animals, or pets that have been shaved, are susceptible to sunburn, Entzminger pointed out. There are certain sunscreens specifically made for pets, but a sunscreen made for young children would also work, she added.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin
can be reached at
701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org