A severe heat wave is expected to hit the Southwest and Plains by the weekend, and it could shatter records. According to a report by USA Today, temperatures are expected to rise “well past 100 degrees in parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.”
The National Weather Service warned that Americans in the region might experience a “major, potentially historic heat wave.”
Those preparing for the heat wave should know that the worst of it is expected to hit the Southwest between Sunday and Monday. Predictions indicate that Arizona and southeastern California will likely experience the highest temperatures in the region. Some experts are calling for highs between 115 and 120 degrees. Phoenix, Arizona, might even see a new record as temperatures could exceed the 122-degree record set in 1990.
Weather service meteorologist James Sawtelle told USA Today that a high-pressure system would likely begin forming over the city on Monday, which would force incredibly hot air into the region. Although this behavior is usual for this time of year, Sawtelle commented that the exceptionally high temperatures were not.
“The dry weather is normal. This kind of heat wave is significantly above normal.”
Record-breaking temperatures may pose significant challenges for Southern California, which was hit by a less severe — but still formidable — heat wave just last week. As the Inquisitr reported, temperatures didn’t hit triple digits. Unfortunately, weather conditions did manage to respawn a brush fire. The combination of dry weather and incredibly high temperatures could make wildfires a huge concern.
Not every aspect of the upcoming heat wave is expected to be record-breaking. Temperatures could reach 124 degrees in Death Valley. While indeed a “scorcher,” the Southwest location would need to peak at 134 degrees to tie its record high, which was set in 1913.
With the Southwest bracing for ridiculously hot weather, it makes sense to think carefully about safety and to take all necessary precautions. A heat wave isn’t merely unpleasant, it can be a fatal event.
As the National Weather Service explains, “During extremely hot and humid weather, your body’s ability to cool itself is challenged.”
“When the body heats too rapidly to cool itself properly, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, body temperature rises and you or someone you care about may experience a heat-related illness.”
To prevent Americans from succumbing to these dangerous conditions, the agency advises certain sensible precautions be made.
- Dress for the weather. That means opting for “light-weight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothes” that will reflect sunlight and heat rather than absorb them.
- Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic and decaffeinated beverages. You should steer clear of alcohol and caffeinated drinks during a heat wave because these liquids tend to dehydrate you.
- Eat light and easy to digest foods such as fruit or salads. If food is packed, keep it in a cooler, and avoid leaving the food items sitting out in the sun.
- Use air conditioners. If you don’t have one, seek out air-conditioned locations such as a local mall or library.
Finally, and most importantly, you should delay any activity that will put you or someone else in danger. That means no strenuous work, especially if it’s to be performed outdoors.
The elderly and very young children are especially vulnerable during a heat wave. Members of these age groups (and all others susceptible to illness due to excessive heat) should “stay in the coolest locations available.” The National Weather Service notes this isn’t necessarily indoors. It’s certainly not in a parked car, where temperatures inside can easily exceed the heat outside.
Do not leave children, elderly family members, or pets in parked cars during a heat wave. It’s also advisable to routinely check on senior citizens and other vulnerable individuals throughout a heat wave. If you suspect that you or someone else is suffering from heat-related illness, you should seek medical attention immediately.
[Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images]