PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – With temperatures forecast to be above 110 degrees for the rest of the week, the Valley’s first summer heat wave has arrived, and with it, an Excessive Heat Warning put out by the National Weather Service.
As it always does when an Excessive Heat Warning is in effect, the Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services will open 12 heat-relief stations July 11-13. The stations are open to anyone in need and will provide indoor cooling and hydration.
These heat-relief stations will be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. any day an Excessive Heat Warning is in effect.
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In addition to the 12 indoor heat-relief stations, the Salvation Army will also deploy mobile hydration units to “targeted portions of metro Phoenix that have been identified as areas with high homeless populations and encampments,” according to a news released.
“Heat is our natural disaster,” said Salvation Army spokesman Major David Yardley. “There were 182 heat-associated deaths in Maricopa County last year, and we are trying to do our part to lower those numbers.”
Heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in Arizona and the U.S., according to Will Humble, the director of the Division of Health Policy and Program Evaluation the University of Arizona’s Health Sciences Center. Heat kills more people than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and wildfires combined.
This is not the first Excessive Heat Warning of 2019. That was in mid-June before spring turned to summer.
The Salvation Army said it helped more than 2,200 people during those three days.
[RELATED: What you need to know about heat warnings]
It's a pretty safe bet that we'll see more heat warnings before summer is over.
[FORECAST: Arizona's Weather Authority]
On average, the Phoenix metro area sweats through 92 days (three months!) of 100 degrees or higher and 11 days (nearly two weeks) of 110 degrees or more, according to the National Weather Service. Those numbers jump to 109 and 118 if you look at the data from 1981-2010.
An average of more than 120 people died of heat-related illness every year between 2001 and 2013. Hundreds more, nearly 2,000, landed in emergency rooms throughout the state.
In addition to taking precautions yourself and your family, the Salvation Army urges everyone to be a good neighbor and check on those who might be at risk of heat-related health problems.
[WATCH: Staying safe in the Arizona heat]
Heat-related illness sneaks up on you and can go from bad to worse to deadly in a stunningly short amount of time.
There are several things you can -- and should -- do to protect yourself, especially if you have to be out in the sweltering sun.
Heat-related illness -- heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heatstroke -- results when your body is desperately trying to cool itself. As WebMD explains, blood rushes to the surface of your skin. That means less blood is getting to your brain, muscles and other organs -- the things that make your body operate.
Heat exhaustion happens when your body loses large amounts of water and sodium through excessive sweating.
Heat cramps are similar but generally strike during heavy exertion.
Heatstroke, the most dangerous, happens when your body can no longer cool itself. When you stop sweating, it's past time to worry.
The first symptom of all of these is dehydration, and it can be sneaky. The basic rule is if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated.
Some doctors say most Phoenicians live in a state of mild dehydration during the summer.
Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include a dry or sticky mouth, fatigue and lethargy, decreased urine output, dry skin, headache, constipation and dizziness.
Your urine is a great indicator of your hydration level. Light or clear means you are well-hydrated. Dark yellow or amber urine generally signals dehydration.
Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be dealt with by taking in more fluids, especially water or some kind of electrolyte-balanced sports drink.
Severe dehydration, however, is another matter. It’s a medical emergency that requires a 911 call and immediate care at a hospital or urgent care clinic.
If you would like to help the Salvation Army's effort to protect those in need, you can make a cash donation at SalvationArmyPhoenix.org or text HEAT to 51555 – but the most important need is for volunteers at The Salvation Army’s heat relief stations to help provide life-saving heat relief. Call 602-267-4100 to find out more.