Extended heat wave on way

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Carmen Hollis and her son Carter Hollis, 4, both of Clovis, enjoy the sun and try to beat the heat Thursday at the Potter Park pool. This was Hollis first time at Potter Pool and she said, “I really like it.”

By Jared Tucker

Forecasters say predictions of record-breaking heat across eastern New Mexico today is just the beginning of a scorcher that could last for days.

Today’s forecast calls for temperatures to climb to a high of 98 degrees in Clovis with predictions of 105-degree highs this weekend.

A predicted high of 102 degrees in Portales today would smash the current record of 99 degrees set in 2006.

According to National Weather Service forecaster Mark Fettig, the hot temperatures are here to stay into next week because of a “slow sinking air mass under a high pressure system.”

Fettig said other conditions contributing to scorching temperatures include a higher sun angle and longer days, giving the sun more time to heat it up.

Fettig said minor relief from the heat won’t come until mid-to-late next week, and even then, the drop in temperature “doesn’t look like a dramatic one.”

Heat exhaustion is the most common concern with hot weather, according to local health experts.

Heat exhaustion is caused when the body is exerted for long periods of time in hot temperatures and fluids and electrolytes are not replenished, according to Dr. Giddel Thom, pediatric physician at La Casa Health Center in Portales. Thom said symptoms of include thirst, heavy sweating, increased heart rate, nausea, headache, and dizziness.

Thom said heat exhaustion should not be confused with heat stroke, which is considered a medical emergency.

Thom said some symptoms of heat stroke are the same as heat exhaustion, but include others that can be more harmful.

“The big thing there is a change in mental status, meaning that the patient would either be confused, and that can start as confusion and go to the depths of being in a coma,” Thom said.

Thom said anyone with heat stroke symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Thom said remedies like a wet towel wrapped around your head, an air-conditioned environment, and plenty of fluids are simple ways to cool down. Thom said some medications can impair the body’s cooling mechanisms as well.

Medications such as antihistamines (allergy medicines), anti-depressants, and anti-hypertensive medications often make a person more vulnerable to heat-related illness, he said.

The best treatment for heat-related illness is prevention. Here are some tips:

• Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic fluids.

• Wear light clothing and limit sun exposure.

• If you feel like you are suffering from heat exhaustion, get to a cooler place quickly.