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June ending in high temperatures — NWS issues elevated threat for heat through Friday

Sunday morning, the Rev. Stanley Dixon was working for the Almighty up at the front of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Bogue Chitto.

Monday afternoon, Dixon was working for himself, mowing yards in Moreton Estates. He steered his zero-turn mower around below a punishing sun, with the temperature hitting 96 degrees and the heat index briefly reaching 105 around 3 p.m.

“I told ’em Sunday in the pulpit — when it gets so hot, the Lord will turn a little fan on me to keep me cool,” he said. “I keep a cooler full of water, but I don’t take a lot of breaks. Time is money.”

The first day of summer was last week, but the first days of dangerous heat are here now.

A National Weather Service elevated threat for heat indices for Southwest Mississippi is in effect throughout the week, with the agency forecasting temperatures in the low to mid 90s and heat indices breaking 100 through Friday.

Further heat notices could be issued, said Mike Edmonston, a senior forecaster with the NWS Jackson office.

“We’re looking at the hottest days being around Wednesday and Thursday, but a slightly better chance of rain for the weekend,” he said. “You may see some heat warnings from Tuesday into Thursday. We’re into the summertime patterns now.”

Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey said people like Dixon, who are accustomed to sweating it out during the hottest parts of the day, generally know how to take care of themselves. He cautioned anyone not broken in to high temperatures to stay as cool as possible, make use of shade and keep drinking water.

“Keep a check on the elderly folks, the kids, the pets, and make sure you know they’re OK,” Galey said. “Don’t stay out in it too long, and be sure you’re not leaving pets and children in vehicles, because the heat in there will skyrocket.”

Galey said people working outdoors need to be mindful of what their bodies tell them. Feeling faint or dizzy, excessive sweating, rapid but weak pulse, cramps, nausea and cool, pale skin are all signs of heat exhaustion. If those conditions lead to headaches, hot skin and no sweat, the person could be experiencing a heat stroke — call 911 and cool them down fast until help arrives.

The American Red Cross advises people to wear loose-fitting, light clothing and avoid dark colors that absorb sunlight. It also suggests eating smaller meals more often, avoiding extreme temperature changes and staying indoors during the hottest part of the day — between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

“Summer is on us now,” Galey said.