Heat relief for a hot day

Youngsters participating in the Community Education and Recreation Summer Playground Program at Wheeler Park drink cold water from a hose on a steamy Monday afternoon. Temperatures reached the upper 80s with dewpoints in the upper 60s for a second-straight afternoon. Photo by John Cross

MANKATO — Businesses and organizations took extra precautions to beat the heat Monday, as temperatures reached the upper 80s for a second-consecutive day.

The heat index reached 88 Monday afternoon, after reaching 103 around 6 p.m. Sunday. The National Weather Services expects high temperatures to remain in the 80s for most of the week.

Dr. Steven Campbell of Mayo Clinic Health System urged people to stay inside if they aren't used to the heat. He said people should make sure to drink plenty of fluids, noting that high humidity slows the body's ability to get rid of heat.

“When it's dry outside, the sweat mechanism actually works pretty well,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Tony Zaleski said, “but when it's very moist outside, the ability for your body to dissipate heat through the sweating process decreases dramatically.”

Jim Braunshausen, Mankato's deputy director of public works, said all crews have access to cold water and are encouraged to take breaks once in a while. He estimated the department had 85 to 90 people working outside Monday.

Keith Juliar, a district safety administrator for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said all crew members receive American Red Cross first aid and CPR training. The department provides them with drinks with electrolytes, noting they become acclimated with this type of weather.

CAB Construction took extra precautions to deal with the heat and humidity on Monday, General Manager Karla Hansen said. The company has about 35 people working in its non air-conditioned Mankato plant, she said. Supervisors provided workers with special headbands and drinks and gave them breaks every hour.

Organizations also took precautions with kids activities. Molly Madden, recreation coordinator for Mankato Community Education and Recreation, said staff alters their summer playground programming on hot days such as Monday. She said arts and crafts and water games were possibilities.

“They won't be playing massive games of dodgeball or anything like that,” she said.

Al Kiefer, general manager of the Mankato Area Youth Baseball Association, said the association decides whether to play the games based on the heat index at 4 p.m.

“If it gets too hot, we don't play,” he said. “You got to take that seriously. … It can do a lot of damage if you don't.”

Hot weather can increase the body's core temperature, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. That can lead to minor issues such as heat rash or, in rare cases, life-threatening issues such as heat stroke.

People at the greatest risk of heat illness include adults over 65, infants and young children and people with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. The department says the best ways to prevent illness include drinking fluids frequently, limiting outdoor activity and avoiding alcohol and caffeine.

Zaleski said the air should be drier until Friday when the heat indexes should reach back into the 90s. The best chance of storms this week appears to be Wednesday night into Thursday.

His office was still assessing whether Blue Earth County on Sunday night was hit with severe weather, but reports indicated the heaviest activity was further north.

The weather service said it received four unconfirmed reports of tornadoes in western Minnesota and reports of rain and wind throughout the west and central parts of the state. It also received reports of a couple of downed trees in New Prague, Zaleski said, but nothing further south than that.

The Mankato hospital did not see any cases of heat-related illness over the weekend, a spokesman said.

Folllow Nate Gotlieb on Twitter @NateGotlieb

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