Heat a main concern over holiday weekend

People celebrating outdoors urged to take precautions from high temperatures

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The holiday weekend is filled with festivities, and many people will be spending it outdoors. Heat is going to be a big issue, and medical experts are warning people to be careful as temperatures approach triple digits.

Sight and Sound Productions crew members gearing up for the Fourth of July fireworks along Jacksonville's riverbanks got a taste of the heat Thursday, all while lugging dozens of speakers and amplifiers.

"It is pretty hot. I know the crews are definitely sweating and trying to keep cool. Lots of water coming out," said Brent Fine, part of the production crew. "We left the warehouse about 8 o'clock this morning to get out here and try to beat the heat."

It's not getting any better. Weather forecasts are calling for temperatures creeping into the high 90s in northeast Florida. With the humidity, it'll feel like well over 100 degrees.

"The heat-related illness calls will definitely spike during the heat of the day, the afternoon hours," said Jake Blanton, district chief for Jacksonville Fire-Rescue.

Jacksonville firefighters and paramedics are expecting an uptick in heat-related calls over the next few days, and they're telling people to be careful and watch out for heat exhaustion and stroke.

"It is going to be a hot weekend and of course a busy weekend with people outside more than usual," Blanton said. "Of course there may be alcohol involved and general-type partying atmosphere."

Ironically enough, the men and women who respond to the heat-related illnesses are most susceptible to them because of the heavy gear they wear.

Heat-related illnesses are the reason for more than 3,000 emergency room visits each year in Florida. The warning signs, according to the Florida Department of Health, are:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Fast and weak pulse

ER doctors say plan ahead before it's too late.

"If you know you are going to be out in the heat for a while, just make sure you're very well-hydrated before you go out into the heat," said Dr. Bracken Burns, of UF Health Jacksonville. "Unfortunately, alcohol does not count as hydrating. It actually has an opposite effect."

The very young and the very old are most likely to have heat stroke, as are the obese and those with certain health conditions.