A heat wave stretching all across the Midwest made its way into Marshalltown on Wednesday with temperatures that hit 100 degrees and a heat index nearing 110.
Those hot temperatures mixed with Iowa's humidity made for near unbearable conditions, but also served as a reminder that heat can be a very dangerous force of nature.
Marshall County Public Health Nurse Pat Thompson said that with extremely hot temperatures, everyone is at risk, especially young children and the elderly.
T-R PHOTO BY LUKE STALZER
Soon-to-be seventh grader Victoria Johnson beats the summer 100 degree temperatures at one of the Marshalltown Family Aquatic Center’s splash dances held Wednesday night from 8 to 10 p.m. The splash dances are for students in grades sixth through ninth and cost $3 to attend. There will be three more before the end of summer on, July 11, July 25 and August 8. For more information, you can contact the aquatic center at 641-844-1515 or Parks and Recreation at 641-754-5715. The aquatic center closes August 19.
"Young kids and the elderly have a harder time regulating their body temperatures," Thompson said. "When it gets this hot though, it's dangerous for anyone."
According to the National Weather Service, heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States and claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. Thompson said there are several signs and symptoms to look for that could be indicators of hyperthermia-related illnesses.
"There are several things that can happen, but if you're outside and starting to feel dizzy or light-headed, you need to stop what you're doing and take a break indoors," Thompson said. "You just have to use common sense and not mow your yard on days that there are heat advisories or warnings."
Thompson also said to be cautious with your kids when sending them to places like the aquatic center.
"Make sure that they are drinking plenty of water," Thompson said. "Use sun-block and pay attention if they say they're feeling tired."
Along with keeping yourself safe in the extreme summer heat, Heidi Drager, executive director with the Marshalltown Animal Rescue League, said, "pets react the same way humans do."
"Dogs can become overheated very quickly," Drager said. "It's important that they have access to shade, water and shelter if they're going to be outside, but if you can, bring them into air conditioning."
Drager said some of the signs to look for in dogs who have been overexposed to heat is excess panting which could lead to unresponsiveness.
As of press time, the Animal Rescue League had no reports of dogs left in the heat, but Drager said if you see a situation you're concerned about, you can call the Animal Rescue League at 641-753-9046.
"These kind of situations can get out of hand quickly," Drager said.
Thompson reminded people that this won't be the last of this kind of weather and offered a few more tips.
"Stay away from alcohol and drink plenty of water," Thompson said. "Wear loose clothing and you might want to check on those people you know that might live alone; just use common sense."
A call was made to the Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center Wednesday afternoon, but it was unknown if any heat related illnesses had been treated by emergency room physicians.
The warm conditions are expected to stick around central Iowa into the early part of next week staying around 90 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.