The National Weather Service is warning about dangerously high temperatures along the upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions this weekend.
Locally, some places are providing daytime relief, while officials advise that people take steps to keep cool, including not travelling unless necessary.
The elderly, young and infirm are especially vulnerable to the effects of higher temperatures.
The heatwave is supposed to last through Saturday with temperatures in the upper 90s and a heat index in the 100s, according to the National Weather Service.
“Where temperatures are in the 90s, high dew points will create dangerous heat indices, and Excessive Heat Warnings and Watches and Heat Advisories are in effect for much of the Plains, Mississippi and Ohio Valleys, and the Eastern Seaboard,” the National Weather Service warns.
Temperatures here are expected to peak in the high 90s on Friday but continue to reach into at least the upper 80s on Sunday.
Thunderstorms are also predicted, which could lead to flash flooding.
“Overnight low temperatures will not provide much relief, with values in the mid to upper 70s to even 80 degrees. Dozens of high minimum temperature records are forecast to be set, with a few record high maximum temperatures possible as well,” according to the National Weather Service.
As of Thursday afternoon, Cass County has no officially designated heat relief shelters.
However, some places are open for those who need the relief during the day.
The Logansport Salvation Army will have their building at 620 Wilkinson St. in Logansport open from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.
On Sunday, the building will be open for church services from 9 a.m. to about noon.
A spokeswoman said that the organization was already seeing people come inside early to wait for free lunches instead of waiting outside at the picnic tables as usual.
The Cass County Senior Center at 115 S. 6th St. in Logansport is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday but is not open on weekends. “We don’t mind people using us as a cooling center,” said Director Bill Calhoun.
He also had tips for senior citizens from his years working with them.
• Drink plenty of water and liquids, more than usual.
• Don’t walk and call the county program (numbers below) if you need transportation.
• Let vehicles cool and don’t ride in vehicles without air conditioning.
• Put wet towels around the neck to stay cool.
“The biggest thing is drink water, drink liquids,” Calhoun said. “Seniors are very prone to getting dehydrated.”
Although some think a small glass is fine, “your body loses moisture quickly,” he said.
Dr. Rene Gutierrez, medical director for the Logansport Memorial Express Medical Center, said that the elderly are more at risk than others, including the young and infirm, because their brains and cardiovascular systems work differently.
For younger people, the symptoms of heat problems usually come through exertion, but the elderly can experience those just from being in the heat.
“The main things is being aware of what the heat is doing,” Gutierrez said. “You have to recognize the stages.”
There are three stages of heat having severe effects as body temperature increases.
In the mild stage, people can experience, muscle cramps or swelling in the legs.
This won’t affect the body’s system or effect weight or cardiovascular activity. However, people in this stage need to get out of the heat and drink plenty of liquids.
In the moderate stage, people can experience headache, nausea, lightheadedness (as if about to pass out) or dizziness.
At this stage, people should not only get out of the heat but cool body temperature rapidly with things like cold showers and drinking ice water.
At the first two stages, people should also be aware of their mental state, including signs of confusion, agitation or seizures.
With these symptoms, people should immediately lay flat on their backs and raise their feet.
If there’s any confusion or agitation or change in mental status, “you’ve got to get to a hospital,” Gutierrez said. That will require the patient to receive fluids through an IV line.
The severe stage is heat stroke, which results in passing out and potential heart, brain or liver damage.
“You can die from that,” Gutierrez said.
People with heat stroke should be placed into a tub of ice water — or cold water if that’s not possible — and get hydrated through an IV.
The best way to stay safe is to avoid stressful activity, such as mowing lawns, in the high heat, Gutierrez said.
People should also wear light-colored clothing that is loose and doesn’t trap heat and hydrate.
Those who have to be active or work in the heat should slowly acclimate to it, going out for 10 or 15 minutes while monitoring themselves. They can work up to 30 minutes outside at a time, then up to an hour.
As their bodies acclimate to tolerating the heat, they’ll be less likely to experience issues from it, he said.
Carmen Jones, Logansport Memorial Spokeswoman, said that as of Thursday afternoon, the hospital hadn’t had anyone come in because of heat problems.
“We’re hoping that the trend will continue and people will stay safe in this heat,” she said.
Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at email@example.com or 574-732-5117.
Where to cool down
Cass County Senior Center: 115 S. 6th St., Logansport. Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Salvation Army: 620 Wilkinson St., Logansport. Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday church services, 9 a.m. to about noon.
If you need a ride:
Ride Program Dispatch Center: 574-753-5555
Senior Center: 574-722-2424