GEMA officials say this time of year can bring extreme heat, which is defined as temperatures that hover 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region and last for several weeks.
"The normal high at this time of year is 88 [degrees] and we are running, Cartersville [Monday around 4 p.m.] is 94, which is about what it's been for the last several days. So we've been averaging about 6 or 7 degrees above normal every day lately," National Weather Service Meteorologist Robert Beasley said. "The heat index is running [in the] upper 90s to maybe around 101 at times. ... It's hot and people should not be out exerting themselves in the heat of the day. It's hot. It's above normal and we don't see any change to that through the weekend."
NWS reports an average of 1,500 people across the nation die each year from heat exposure, but Bartow County Emergency Management Services Director Larry Owens said local emergency medical crews have not seen any heat-related injuries yet this summer. He adds that people should stay cool and drink plenty of fluids.
"Heat exhaustion is when you're in a hot environment, and you are sweating profusely and you crap up, nausea, vomiting and stuff like that. What you do is get out of the hot environment, get in a cool place and drink plenty of fluids and you should be OK," Owens said. "Heat stroke is when you're in a hot environment, and you stop sweating. Your temperature goes up, you have hot, red, dry skin. The sweating mechanism has stopped and your temperature goes up and literally it cooks your brain, and you usually die from it.
"Heat stroke, call 9-1-1. Heat exhaustion, all you can do is get out of the hot environment. If you keep going, it will develop into heat stroke. Drink plenty of fluids, no alcohol, no caffeine because those diuretics, and make you lose fluid."
Dealing with the heat
Officials say it is best to stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun, in addition to these tips for dealing with the heat:
* Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
* Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spending some time each day (during hot weather) in an air-conditioned environment will provide some protection. Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
* Drink plenty of water. People with epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
* Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
* Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
* Protect the face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
* Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
* Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
* Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
GEMA spokesman Janak Newman said in a statement to insulate your home and shade windows to protect yourself from the heat.
High temperatures often lead to severe thunderstorms and lightning, which caused over $400 million in property damage last year in Georgia. According to Newman, all thunderstorms are dangerous because they can produce strong winds, lightning, tornadoes, hail and flash flooding.
She advises taking shelter in a home, building or hard-top automobile if severe weather hits and postpone outdoor activities if a storm is headed your way. In addition, Bartow County Emergency Management Agency's website suggest these thunderstorm safety tips:
Before lightning strikes:
* Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light or increasing wind. Listen for thunder.
* If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
* Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for the latest weather forecasts.
When a storm approaches:
* Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles.
* Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances. Avoid using telephone or electrical appliances.
* Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
* Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job.
* Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.
If caught outside:
* If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.
* If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately.
Protecting yourself outside:
* Go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles or metal objects.
* Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.
Be a very small target for lightning:
* Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible.
* Do not lie flat on the ground; this will make you a larger target.
After the storm passes:
* Stay away from storm damaged areas.
* Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
If someone is struck by lightning:
* People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
* Call for help. Get someone to call 9-1-1.
* The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned, both where they were struck and where the electricity left their body. Check for burns in both places.
* Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped, begin CPR.
Bartow County is under a Hazardous Weather Outlook through Sunday. NWService officials warn there is a chance of thunderstorms, with frequent lightning and damaging downburst winds, each day, mainly during the afternoon and evening.