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The North Adams Mountain One thermometer was already reading in the 80s by mid-morning on Friday.

Excessive Heat, Humidity Forecast Through Sunday

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The National Weather Service is forecasting excessive heat and humidity to begin this afternoon, peaking Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Daytime highs are forecast to be in the 90s to low 100s today through Sunday, with dew points in the low to mid 70s. Little cooling is expected to take place in the overnight hours, with lows in most areas only dropping to the mid 70s to near 80.

Heat index values are expected to reach 95 to 100 degrees this afternoon. Heat index values could reach 107 to 112 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon for most of Massachusetts, with values between 96 and 102 locally in the Berkshires.

This level of heat and humidity is dangerous and relatively rare for this part of the country. Prolonged exposure to heat and humidity will increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.

"MEMA urges residents to take precautions during the upcoming extreme heat. Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle, find an air-conditioned public space, cooling center, or other cool spot for relief, and watch for heat-related illnesses," said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Samantha Phillips. "Please check on your family, friends, or neighbors to make sure they are safe during the extreme heat."

Local help

In preparation and response to the weather forecast and high heat advisory, the city of North Adams has announced that the following locations are available to residents seeking relief from the heat and humidity:

* North Adams Public Library, 74 Church St.: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

* Mary Spitzer Senior Center, 116 Ashland St.: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.

* The Noel Field splash park: The park is open every day during the summer from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

* Windsor Lake: Public parking fees will be waived at Windsor Lake from Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21. Lifeguards will be on duty during the day.

* Mass MoCA: The museum welcomes all residents in the 01247 zip code (please bring proof of residency) to visit their air-conditioned museum galleries for free from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The city of Pittsfield has designated several cooling centers, including:

* The Ralph J. Froio Senior Center, 330 North St.: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday; noon to 4 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Please note all hours of operation will be extended as needed.

* Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave.: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

* The Salvation Army, 298 West St.: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

* The Christian Center, 193 Robbins Ave.: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday.

For those who may need transportation, the city will be providing free rides to the above locations. Staff at senior housing facilities are encouraged to arrange the pickup of residents to ensure all have access to this resource. Vehicles are accessible. For ride information, please call 499-9346.

Adams: Council on Aging will have a cooling shelter at the Visitors Center on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Great Barrington: Berkshire South Community Center is open as a public cooling center open to residents of Great Barrington and other communities on Friday until 8:30 p.m., Saturday from 8 to 6 and Sunday from 8 to 5.
Sheffield: Bushnell-Sage Library open as a cooling center during their regular hours on Friday and Saturday.

West Stockbridge:The Senior Center is open through the weekend and available as usual from 8 to 8.  

Williamstown: New police station on Simonds Road will be used only as needed Friday and Saturday but will be open as a cooling center on Sunday from 10 to 5. The Milne Public Library is open to 5:20 on Friday and Saturday from 10 to 3:50.


Pet safety

The Berkshire Humane Society advises all residents of the Berkshires and surrounding areas to be mindful of their pets’ safety during the forecasted heat wave. Pets should live indoors with their families. If they must spend time outside, make sure they have constant shade, even as the sun moves across the sky. Provide plenty of water along with ice cubes. Consider setting up a kiddie pool for dogs that enjoy playing in water, and make sure that water bowls and pools are in shaded areas.

Keep walks short and avoid hot sidewalks and pavement as these surfaces can burn paws. Take walks in the early morning or late evening. Limit outdoor play.

Never leave a pet inside a car, even with windows cracked or with the AC running. On average, the inside temperature of a car on a warm day is 20+ degrees hotter than outside the car. On a hot day, this temperature increase will be even greater. The heat rise occurs within minutes, and extreme heat can kill your pet or cause irreversible organ damage in an extremely short period of time.

Animals respond differently to heat than humans. Dogs pant and sweat through their feet, therefore fans do not adequately cool them. Outdoor dog houses restrict airflow and can be deadly. Make arrangements for your pets if you must be away from home or cannot keep them with you.


Stay safe

MEMA offers these extreme heat safety tips:

* Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20°F within 10 minutes.

* Slow down and avoid strenuous activity.

* Drink plenty of fluids — even if you are not thirsty. Avoid alcoholic beverages and liquids high in sugar or caffeine. If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink, ask how much you should drink during hot weather.

* Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Light colors reflect heat and sunlight, and help maintain normal body temperature.

* Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun. Do not leave pets outside for extended periods of time.

* If you must be outdoors, limit your outdoor activity to the morning and evening hours. Try to rest often in shady areas so your body temperature will have a chance to recover. Use sunscreen with a high SPF and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

* If you do not have air conditioning, stay on your lowest floor, out of the sun. Use fans to stay cool and avoid using your stove and oven. Consider spending time in air-conditioned public spaces, such as schools, libraries, theaters, and other community facilities.

* Check with your local authorities or Call 2-1-1 to find locations of cooling centers or shelters near you.

* On hot days, more people cool off around bodies of water. Playing in and around water can increase the risk of drowning. Learn how to keep yourself and your children safe in and around water with these Water Safety Tips.

* If there are power outages during warm weather, you may need to take additional precautions or go to a cooling center or emergency shelter to stay cool.
* Know the symptoms of and watch out for heat-related illnesses. Call 9-1-1 to report emergencies.

* Be a good neighbor. Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, those with medical conditions, those who may need additional assistance, and those who may not have air conditioning.


Watch for problems

During extreme heat, people are susceptible to heat-related illnesses, including:

* Heat cramps: These are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Get the person to rest in a comfortable position in a cooler place. Give the person water or fluids with electrolytes help them rehydrate.

* Heat exhaustion: This typically occurs when people overexert themselves in a warm, humid place, and often affects those doing strenuous work in hot weather. Body fluids are lost through heavy sweating and blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to vital organs to decrease. This results in a form of mild shock. Symptoms include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, nausea, dizziness, headache, weakness, and/or exhaustion. Get the person to rest in a comfortable position in a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. If the person is conscious, give them half a glass of cool water or fluids with electrolytes every 15 minutes, making sure the person drinks slowly. Watch the person carefully for changes in his or her condition and call 9-1-1 if it doesn’t improve.

* Heat stroke: This is the most serious heat emergency and is life-threatening. Heat stroke develops when systems in the body begin to stop functioning due to extreme heat. Heat stroke may cause brain damage or death if the body is not cooled quickly. Symptoms include an extremely high body temperature, hot and red skin (dry or moist), loss of consciousness, changes in level of responsiveness rapid and weak pulse, rapid and shallow breathing, vomiting, confusion, and/or seizures A person suffering from heat stroke needs immediate assistance. Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place. Immerse the individual in a cool bath, wrap in cold wet sheets, or cover the person in bags of ice.

Other precautions being taken statewide include the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Emergency Medical Services issuing a waiver allowing EMS providers to transport to local shelters/cooling centers as needed. This waiver is in effect  through Monday, July 22, at 8 a.m.

A cold front is expected to bring relief from high temperatures and humidity starting Monday.

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