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Blistering: Vegas heat streak may approach 2 weeks

Southern Nevadans are sweltering through what’s expected to be the hottest 10-day stretch in recorded Las Vegas weather history.

Blistering conditions have swelled burn and heat-related patient totals at University Medical Center and caused uncountable discomfort levels for most people.

The 1962 record of consecutive days with highs of 110 degrees or higher in Las Vegas is 10, from June 17 to June 26 of that year, according to National Weather Service records.

The excessive heat streak could potentially run several days longer.

With six days of highs at 111 or higher since Friday (including 116 degrees on Sunday), the forecast calls for daily highs of 110 or higher through Wednesday.

After a high of 112 Thursday, the forecast calls for a 114 Friday high, 116 on Saturday and 114 on Sunday.

The Las Vegas high records for those dates are 113 on July 21, 1942; 114 on July 22, 1937; and 115 on July 23, 1942.

Overnight lows are forecast to be in the upper 80s.

“There’s a 55 percent chance we will be at 110 or higher on Monday,” weather service meteorologist Morgan Stessman said earlier Thursday.

However, the forecast issued Thursday afternoon calls for a high of 109 Monday with 110 on Tuesday and Wednesday. If Monday escalates to 110 and the next two days follow suit, that would make the 110 or higher streak 13 days.

Extreme heat advisory

An extreme heat advisory for the region runs through Saturday evening and has been expanded to include southern Nye as well as Lincoln and Esmeralda counties (below 6,000 feet), southeast California and northwest Arizona. Elevations below 7,500 feet are under a heat advisory.

After a cool Sunday low of 91, Furnace Creek at Death Valley National Park rose to a high of 128 for the hottest reading of the year. The temperature stayed at 100 or better until a 98 low Wednesday morning.

Phoenix set a record Thursday with 21 consecutive days reaching 110 or higher.

A dome of high pressure stretching from California to Texas is holding in place. Pioche in Lincoln County receive a brief shower Wednesday evening, but the rest of the region should be dry with only some high clouds. Mohave County in Arizona might see some precipitation on Sunday, Stessman said.

A slight chance of rain for Las Vegas is on the forecast for Monday.

“The dome might tighten up and shift a bit early next week and become more of a Four Corners high like normal,” Stessman said.

Nearly 40 cooling stations are open daily across the region and current plans are to keep them open through at least Saturday.

A full list of cooling sites can also be found on clarkcountynv.gov and all Clark County Nevada social media channels in English and Spanish.

The extended heat is causing elevated cases of heatstroke and burns, according to Dr. Syed Saquib, director of the University Medical Center Lions Burn Care Center.

The UMC adult emergency department has treated 46 patients in the first 19 days of July for heat symptoms with 24 of those in the past week. By comparison, UMC had 24 heat cases last July, according to hospital records.

“We are definitely seeing a sign of increased burns and heatstroke symptoms, which is consistent with the triple-digit heat we’ve seen for quite a few days in the valley,” he said.

Pavements can reach 160 to 170 degrees, Saquib said, referring to a study that the burn center recently did with the UNLV College of Engineering.

“Depending on the type, pavements can reach that temperature,” he said. “If you come in contact for whatever reason with the pavement, it only takes a few seconds for people to somehow come in contact with the pavement and suffer second-degree burns.”

He said he knows of at least two cases where surgery will be required to help the victims.

UMC has admitted 11 patients so far in July for pavement burns as well as four treated at the outpatient burn clinic. Last July there were 19 pavement burn admissions.

Last year, Clark County recorded 152 heat-associated deaths, according to the Southern Nevada Health District. Seven heat-related deaths have been recorded this year.

‘Basic common sense measures’

Saquib’s advice to all is to be well prepared to go outside.

“All we ask you is take some basic common sense measures,” Saquib said. “Be very well hydrated, use sunscreen and find time to get out of the sun for a bit to give yourself a break,” he said. “And wear good quality shoes or flip-flops so they can tolerate the pavement.”

Checking the pavement is recommended for anybody walking their pet or considering flip-flops.

“Test the pavement with the back of your hand for a few seconds. If you can’t hold it there longer than five seconds, it’s way too hot for a pet or the average thin flip-flop,” said Dr. Daliah Wachs, a Las Vegas family physician and radio show host.

She said burns can range from being sore to blistering to even third-degree depending on the length of time of exposure.

Medications may pose issues

Some medications could put one at risk for sun-sensitivity reactions or severe burns, Wachs said.

The drugs include:

Antibiotics and anti-fungals

Antihistamines

Statins to lower cholesterol

Diuretics

Birth control

NSAIDS such as ibuprofen

Diabetic medications such as sulfonylureas

Retinoids for skin

“One should consult their medical provider to determine if their medications could pose a risk during sun exposure or high heat,” Wachs advised.

Ambulances/RTC buses

AMR/Medic West crews don’t carry any special cooling treatments, spokesman Damon Schilling said. He added that crews may stock extra IV bags or ice packs and often get extra cooling towels or other such items when they go to the hospital and can use them on patients as needed or those who decline to be transported.

Other than perhaps adding extra ice packs in the summer, Clark County Fire Department crews carry the same equipment year round, a spokesman said in an email. Community Ambulance has not returned a message.

The Regional Transportation Commission has an annual summer heat campaign to prepare passengers, said spokeswoman Catherine Busche.

The agency also gets donations of water for distribution to riders at transit centers.

Contact Marvin Clemons at mclemons@reviewjournal.com. Follow @Marv_in_Vegas on Twitter.

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