By Jared Tucker: PNT staff writer
By Jared Tucker
PNT Staff Writer
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 the earth 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,” he said.
Heat exhaustion is the most common concern, 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 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,” said Thom.
Thom said anyone with heat stroke symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
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.
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.