Russell Robinson

Russell Robinson, a player for the Greenwood Raiders youth football team, practices in the heat at Whittington Park Monday evening.

The dog days of August have arrived.

Nobody knows this better than Markuez Brown, who took a brief break from mowing a lawn on Grand Boulevard Monday afternoon.

“It’s hot, man. You have to stay hydrated,” said a sweating Brown. Though the yard was shaded by trees, he still draped a sweatshirt over his head and neck to help protect himself from sunshine filtering through foliage.

“It’s hot today,” he repeated, saying that he makes sure to drink lots of water prior to working outside and continues to hydrate while working.

High temperatures and humidity combined for sweltering heat throughout Greenwood in the last several days, and this is expected to linger through Tuesday, according to the Jackson Bureau of the National Weather Service.

Greenwood had a high of 97 Monday, and with relative humidity levels at 50% or higher the heat index reached 111,  according to the National Weather Service.

The Jackson bureau of the National Weather Service issued a “dangerous heat stress” warning for a large portion of Mississippi, from Cleveland up north to Hattiesburg and Vicksburg to Meridian, on Monday. A small  part of eastern Arkansas was included.

The warning predicted high temperatures in the upper 90s and a heat index rating of 110 to 115 through Tuesday.

“Heat stroke is increasingly likely with prolonged outdoor activity,” the warning reads.

Along Carrollton Avenue, Greg Little of Miller Pipeline toiled in the sun and heat and tried to make sure he stayed hydrated.  He and a co-worker were preparing to patch a slab of concrete.

Greg Little

Greg Little, who was working for Miller Pipeline on Carrollton Avenue Monday, says drinking lots of water and taking breaks are the best ways to avoid overheating when working outside.

“Drink lots of water. Take breaks regularly,” Little said.

He said he and his co-worker together drink a 12-pack of plastic water bottles in a day. They also take an occasional 10-minute break from the heat by sitting in their work truck with the air conditioning turned on.

Dr. Timothy Lamb, an emergency-room physician at Greenwood Leflore Hospital, has seen what happens to people when they overheat.

Lamb said heat exhaustion is common this time of the year, particularly among high school athletes and outdoor laborers. The symptoms include weakness, blurred vision and muscle cramps. Typically you sweat profusely  before having muscle cramps in the arms, legs and abdomen, Lamb said.

Patients with heat exhaustion are hydrated intravenously at the emergency room with a fluid consisting of electrolytes, the doctor said.

Heat stroke, less commonly seen at the hospital, is a step above heat exhaustion. The symptoms are similar — muscle cramps and headaches — though in this case, you stop sweating since the body is trying to conserve energy, Lamb said.

In addition, if you are older or if you have certain health conditions, such as those of the heart or lung, you might be more prone to heat stroke.

How can you avoid overheating?

Willie Alexander

Willie Alexander, a player for the Greenwood Raiders youth football team, practices in the heat at Whittington Park Monday evening.

Don’t wait to drink water. It’s harder to catch up later, Lamb said. “If  you’re anticipating having to be outside, keep yourself well hydrated before you go outside,” he said.

Though drinks filled with electrolytes, such as Gatorade, assist in hydration, Lamb said from all the medical literature he’s read, water is still the best option.

Lamb also said to “listen to your body” when you’re not feeling comfortable. Rising heat levels can still cause overheating even if you have hydrated beforehand.

Ultimately, Lamb said, the best option for avoiding overheating is to stay indoors: “If you can stay out of the heat, you’re probably advised to do so.”

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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