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SPOTLIGHT
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It's so hot ...

Published on -6/26/2012, 9:54 AM

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As the thermometer keeps rising, heat records throughout the region keep falling by the wayside. In some cases, the temperatures are reaching ridiculous levels.

On Monday, Atwood in Rawlins County recorded a reading of 113 degrees. Not only did that smash the previous record daily high of 105 set in 1943, it was close to being the hot spot on the entire planet that day. According to AccuWeather.com, there were only six places posting higher temperatures -- all in the Middle East. Makkah in Saudi Arabia had 117 degrees.

That is crazy. Northwest Kansas should not be mentioned in the same breath as desert regions near the Red Sea.

But that is precisely what we're experiencing this week. WaKeeney, Plainville and Colby all had 112 readings, breaking records set as long ago as 1911. Hill City had 111; Russell had 108; Goodland had 107.

The late-June heat wave provides more than just curiosity in the weather. It provides dangerous conditions for the entire population, particularly the very young and very old. And we need to pay attention for signs of heat-related illness.

"When temperatures start to rise, it's important to know how to protect yourself and others, especially those who are at greater risk of heat-related illness," said Kansas Department on Aging Secretary Shawn Sullivan. "If you have a friend, relative or neighbor who doesn't have air-conditioning, now would be a good time to talk with them about getting into a cooler place."

As we can't all stay indoors the entire day, efforts must be made to minimize exposure to the sun. Otherwise, heat stress, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke can come into play. In extreme cases, medical attention will be necessary.

"The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention," said Dr. Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. "Staying cool and making simple changes in your fluid intake, activities and clothing during hot weather can help you remain safe and healthy."

Both the KDHE and KDOA offer common-sense methods to stay cool, including: keeping hydrated, wearing loose-fitting and light-colored clothing, taking cool showers, eating light, staying out of the mid-day sun, wearing sunscreen, and wearing sunglasses. The agencies also remind us not to leave children or older adults alone nor in non-air-conditioned spaces.

The forecasts suggest these triple-digit temperatures are going to stick around for a while. Extreme heat is nothing to mess with. Let's all take the steps necessary to beat the heat.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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