Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - With temperatures in the mid to upper 90s all this week, I spoke with Julia Goar, Missoula Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator about common sense steps to take in keeping your families as cool and as safe as possible.

Goar began by describing step one; the most common complaint in this hot weather; HEAT STRESS.

Heat Stress, Heat Illness, and Heatstroke Signs and Treatments

“Heat stress is probably how all of us are feeling, right now,” began Goar. “If you just step outside right now, you're warm, you're uncomfortable, you might be a little irritable, you might start to get quite tired, maybe get a headache. That’s heat stress, and it's important to drink a lot of water and take cool showers and baths. You can head down to the river, wear loose clothing, and wear a big sun hat. Those are things that can be helpful for all of us, regardless of our age.”

Stepping up a grade, Goar described the symptoms of Heat Illness.

“With heat illness, I already described some of the symptoms,” she continued. “You start to get a headache; you start to become nauseated, you really just start getting fatigued. You don't feel good. This is when you need to take aggressive measures to try to start cooling off. Something that people don't quite understand about these illnesses is you can't just drink water and get better, you actually have to cool down your body temperature.”

The Most Serious Heat-Related Illness is Heatstroke

The most dangerous aspect of this hot weather is contracting heatstroke. Goar described those symptoms.

“At the top is heatstroke,” she said. “That's when our brain gets too hot and you might have a super high fever, you start hallucinating, you might pass out, or you may go into cardiac arrest. This is a very big deal. This is when you need to start calling 9-1-1, and heading towards an emergency room so they can cool you off, get you IV fluids.”

As the heat index rises, Goar said it’s important to begin keeping track of children and especially elderly neighbors, who can also be deeply affected by the heat.

READ MORE: FORECASTERS WARNING OF DANGEROUS HEAT IN MONTANA

Try to Check on Your Elderly Neighbors During this Hot Spell

“Even if it's just an elderly neighbor maybe that you haven't seen since this morning, you'll go take a knock on their door, make sure they're doing okay,” she said. “Again, just getting into cool spaces is going to be really important to cool your house. Not a lot of us have AC, so make sure you're putting some reflective things in the window to insulate, and get some of that heat out. Open up your windows at night to try to cool down. If you Google how to make a swamp cooler, that's something that you can do just with water and a fan.”

Click here for more information from Missoula Public Health.

Click here to get important hot weather tips from Climate Smart Missoula.

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Gallery Credit: Chris Wolfe

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