Week Long Heat Wave for S.E. Colorado

An oppressive and persistent heat wave is hitting southeast Colorado and other parts of the nation.  The National Weather Service in Pueblo is predicting triple digit temperatures from Burlington, CO, to Amarillo, TX and from Pueblo to Garden City through this week.

Residents are urged to take caution and find ways to keep as cool as possible for the next few days, and be aware of some of the heat symptoms for heat exhaustion or heat stroke from too much time spent in the sun.  (Bottom of story)

The effect of the heat, as expected, is being felt at area stores.  Kimberly Eskew, ALCO store manager in Lamar says they’ve noticed a 30% to 40% increase in sales of water and ice, as well as in floor-style, portable air conditioners.  “The small kiddie swimming pools are also going quickly,” she commented.  Three air conditioners were sold in just one day last week.  “We’re not sure when we can get some new ones shipped in as there is demand from all our stores,” Eskew explained.  We are taking rainchecks at this time on those units.  “We aren’t selling a lot of swamp coolers, as they just aren’t able to keep up with this heat,” she said.

Those sales are echoed at Walmart in Lamar where interim manager Nancy Teeter said sales have been brisk for window mounted air conditioners and fans.  “We don’t carry large ones, but customers are purchasing the window mounted ones, and all kinds of fans,” she said.  Ice and water and other beverages have also increased in sales since last week.  Tamara at North Loves on North Main Street in Lamar said that sales of water have increased since last week, but ice sales have been constant.  Store Manager Donna Ward at South Loaf ‘N Jug said she’s almost out of bottled water, “I’ve contacted other stores in the area for a loan shipment, but our Las Animas store has had the same demands we have.  We’ve had 30% increases in water and ice for the past two weeks.”

Melissa Larrick, manager of the Lamar Swimming Pool said they had about 250 persons this past Saturday, “That’s about 100 more than we usually average on that day, and Sunday also saw more people coming in.”  Monday through Friday usually has from 80 to 100 persons at the pool, but she expects only a small gain this week because of working parents.  “We take health precautions, making periodic announcements over the loudspeaker to use sunscreen and to stay hydrated with water.”  She added,” We have about 20 lifeguards on staff and they keep on eye on the kids.  We make sure our guards stay covered when they’re on duty and rotate the shifts so we don’t keep them in the sun too long,” Larrick explained.  She’s expecting several hundred people at Willow Creek Park for the annual Lamarlin’s Invitational, this Friday through Sunday.  The Lamar Parks and Rec Department said they expect the pool to be closed this weekend during the day for the swimming competition, so area residents need to plan ahead for an alternative to a day at the pool.  Temperatures for Saturday and Sunday are expected to be in the upper 90s with no forecast for any rain to break the heat.

By Russ Baldwin

The following are guidelines to recognize and treat heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is not able to maintain normal functions because of the excessive loss of body fluids and salts. In effect, the body is trying to protect itself from a greater rise in body temperature.

Symptoms can include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Intense thirst
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Cool, moist skin
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Treatment:
  • Remove victim to a shaded place or cool area
  • Have victim lie down with their feet elevated
  • Apply wet cloths and fan vigorously
  • Have the person drink water or watered-down electrolyte drinks every 15 minutes
  • Make sure victim receives medical attention
  • Recommend victim avoid strenuous activity for at least a day

 

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency. It is the result of the body’s inability to regulate its core temperature. As the body’s water and salt supplies dwindle, its temperature rises to extreme levels.
Symptoms can include:

  • Body temperature of 105° or higher
  • Red, dry, very hot skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Strong and rapid pulse
  • Extreme disorientation
  • Unconsciousness and possibly convulsions

 

Treatment:

  • A victim of heat stroke needs immediate medical attention
  • Summon an ambulance immediately
  • Until medical attention arrives, move the person to a shaded place or cooler area
  • Loosen tight clothing
  • Cool the individual by sponging the body with cool water or wrapping in wet sheets
  • Do not give the victim anything to drink – not even water

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