With temperatures expected to top 100 degrees by the weekend, and to last through the Fourth of July, Missoula City County Health Department nurse Cindy Hotchkiss has two important pieces of advice, stay cool and hydrated.

"Some of the things that you can do is to stay where it's air conditioned, so if you don't have air conditioning you can go to the mall, go to a department store or a restaurant where they have air conditioning," Hotchkiss said. "In addition you want to drink more water than you're used to drinking normally. With these high temperatures, you run the risk of becoming dehydrated much faster than usual."

Hotchkiss said those who don't have air conditioning need to stick together.

"It's important to have a little bit of the buddy system," she said. "If you live alone and you have a friend or a neighbor, make a deal to check on each other because you can get things like heat exhaustion and heatstroke, so we're just trying to make sure everybody's staying safe."

Hotchkiss addressed the two major heat-related illnesses.

"First, there's heat exhaustion," Hotchkiss said. "Some of the symptoms are heavy sweating, weakness, cold, clammy skin, a fast, weak pulse along with nausea and vomiting, and it can also cause you to lose consciousness. If that happens, move to a cool place, apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible and sip water. Drinking a lot of water could induce more vomiting, so just sip water a bit at a time."

Hotchkiss said heat exhaustion can easily turn into heatstroke.

"Heatstroke has many of the same symptoms, plus you get a very high body temperature, sometimes above 103 degrees," she said. "You can get hot, red and moist skin, you have a very rapid, strong pulse and it usually does cause unconsciousness or fainting. If this happen to you or someone else, call 9-1-1 because it could be a medical emergency."

The National Weather Service predicts high temperatures to remain in the 90's through next week, but could become more seasonable, into the 80's, by the end of the Fourth of July weekend.


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