COLUMBUS, Indiana — Get ready for what may be the steamiest weekend in five years. A heat wave that arrived Thursday is expected to linger across Bartholomew County through Sunday, according to weather services.

Thursday’s high temperature in Columbus was expected to reach 94, followed by 95 today and Saturday, then 93 degrees on Sunday — well above the historical average of 86 — before dropping back into the 80s as the new week begins, according to the Accuweather service.

The threat for heat stress and heat-related illness will remain high as peak afternoon heat index values climb as high as 105 degrees today and Saturday, meteorologists warn.

Learn more in Friday’s edition of The Republic. Below, helpful information on the heat.

Most common, dangerous heat-related illnesses

Heat cramps: This is the mildest of heat-related illnesses. People with heat cramps generally get out of the heat, drink plenty of water, and rest. Most often, they do fine after self-treatment at home.

Heat exhaustion: The second stage of heat illness often requires medical attention. People may develop muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea and headaches. These patients need intravenous fluids and often nausea medicine. Patients generally recover fully from heat exhaustion.

Heat stroke: The most serious stage of heat illness is found in people who have very high temperatures and experience confusion, lack of sweating and vomiting. These patients require cool intravenous fluids, rapid cooling of their bodies, and often a ventilator because of their severity of illness. In severe cases, they can develop swelling of the brain and organs can shut down and fail. It is often lethal, despite the best care.

Source: Dr. Kevin Terrell, medical director of emergency services at Columbus Regional Hospital.

Heat wave tips

Most of the heat-related illnesses seen at Columbus Regional Hospital could be prevented with simple actions. The main recommendation is to stay out of the heat if possible. However, people who must be outside are advised to take the following preventive steps.

  • Drink plenty of water and stay in the shade as much as possible.
  • Put sunscreen on exposed parts of the body.
  • Wear hats and light-colored clothing to reflect the heat as much as possible.

Advisories issued by the National Weather Service urge all residents to check up on the elderly, as well as people without air conditioners.

A special emphasis is being made to not leave a child or pet in a parked vehicle, where temperatures can quickly become lethal.

Source: Dr. Kevin Terrell, medical director of emergency services

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.