Heat hit dangerous levels Thursday, the third consecutive day with temperatures in the 90s -- marking an official heat wave and prompting health concerns.
Boston's heat emergency, declared Tuesday through Thursday, was extended through Sunday, keeping a dozen cooling centers open, Mayor Michelle Wu said. The heat wave is expected to continue at least until then, and NBC10 Boston's weather team issued a First Alert for Sunday, when humidity is expected to spike back to Thursday's levels after decreasing Friday and Saturday.
"With the weather forecast now showing the high temperatures and humidity lasting through the weekend, we’re extending the heat emergency to prioritize the well-being and safety of Boston’s families," Wu said in a statement.
More information on Boston's heat emergency, including the list of cooling centers and where the city's splash pads are, at boston.gov/heat.
Heat stress on the body can be cumulative, day after day, particularly for those without air conditioning whose bodies never really get to recuperate with warm and sticky nights. The NBC10 Boston weather team had already issued a First Alert Thursday for the heat index, which measures impact on the body, of over 100 degrees when you account for the oppressive humidity.
It's important to stay hydrated in these extreme conditions, experts say. Common symptoms of dehydration include feeling thirsty, tired, light headed and not being able to urinate, according to the Cleveland Clinic. People are also more susceptible to muscle cramps in the abdomen and legs in this heat, which can be mitigated with proper hydration. There are also signs of more severe heat related illnesses to watch out for, like heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke poses the most serious health risk and, in extreme cases, can be deadly. Symptoms include extremely high body temperature, hot and red skin, loss of consciousness, changes in level of responsiveness, a rapid or weak heartbeat, rapid and shallow breathing, vomiting, confusion, and/or seizures, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. People experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention, experts say.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion commonly occurs when people overexert themselves in a warm, humid place and lose a lot of body fluids through sweat and blood flow to the skin. This can cause blood flow to vital organs to decrease and results in a form of mild shock.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, nausea, dizziness, headache, weakness, and/or exhaustion, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. People experiencing these symptoms should drink water with electrolytes slowly, rest in a cool place, remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths. If conditions worsen, seek immediate medical attention.
Young children are most susceptible to dehydration because they cannot ask for fluids, so it is important to remind them to drink water as well, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. For those who don't have air conditioning, state health officials say to stay on your lowest floor, out of the sun, use fans and avoid using your stove and oven. Consider heading to air-conditioned public buildings and cooling locations.
The hot weather has had a significant impact on power, leaving around 11,000 Massachusetts customers without electricity or air conditioning in the hot weather Wednesday evening. Scattered outages were reported around the state overnight, including places like Medford, Falmouth and Acton.
“I worked all day, I came home, no AC, no power. No anything," Bryan Queenly of Medford said. "So, with a 4-year-old you've got to be the dad, so you take them to a water park. Cool him off and I’m going to join him.”
As of Thursday morning, just about 1,000 people were without power, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Given the potential threat for outages, experts recommend that people to keep their devices and other necessary electronics fully charged.
"When you’re talking about a 5-day stretch, right? Of 90 plus degree weather, which is not what we typically experience here, there’s always a chance for the added load onto the system," Chris McKinnon of Eversource said.