Temperatures have been near 100 all week, renewing concerns about safety.
According to Bonnie Witt-Schulte, Monett's emergency management director, no requests have come to the city for a cooling center so far. Should the need arise, Witt-Schulte said the shelter at the air-conditioned Monett Justice Center could be made available.
Monett firefighters, who have to work in heavy bunker gear, have a protocol for dealing with severe heat. Captain Dewayne Irwin said other departments would be called in to assist if a major firewere to develop.
Firefighters going in would have a limit of one oxygen bottle and then would be pulled out. Other firemen would leave their bunker gear off until their turn came.
The Monett Senior Center offered a cool refuge for those gathered over the noon hour yesterday. Director Lori Balmas said she recommends people stay where it is cool and drink plenty of fluids.
Several seniors at the center recalled ways they handled the heat before air conditioning was prevalent.
"Forty years ago, I was a salesman for Friend Tire," said Vernal "Pooch" Caldwell. "I rolled down both windows [in my truck] and drove as fast as I could."
Ruth Williams, 89, of Monett, recalled, "We grew up poor. When it was hot, we got underneath the shade tree. We did the best we could. When you're young like that, you don't think anything about it."
"I can recall when we didn't even have fans," said Alvin Schad. "We slept in an upstairs room with no air conditioning or a fan. We lived. I guess we didn't know any better."
Mary (Roller) Williams grew up in Purdy and said she and her brothers used to go to where Big Flat River and Little Flat River meet along Highway VV and slide through the metal whistles into the water. Her favorite solution was hanging out in the "air cooled" Gillioz Theater in Monett, where she went on Saturdays and, for 25 cents, could get admission, a Coke and a large bag of candy.
The Missouri Office of Emergency Management offers the following tips for preventing heat-related illness:
* Seek air conditioning. The most efficient way to beat the heat is to spend time in an air-conditioned area such as a home, a mall or public library.
* Electric fans may be useful to increase comfort or to draw cool air into a home at night. Do not rely on a fan as a primary cooling device during a heat wave. At temperatures above 100 degrees, a fan may actually increase heat stress. At 100 degrees, a fan may be delivering overheated air to the skin faster than the body can get rid of this heat with sweating. The net effect is to add heat rather than to cool the body.
* Be aware of the warning signs of heat-related illness, such as light-headedness, mild nausea or confusion, sleepiness or profuse sweating.
* While outdoors, rest frequently in a shady area.
* Schedule outdoor activities before noon or in the evening.
* Wear sunscreen to protect skin from the sun's harmful rays. Sunburn affects the body's ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids.
* Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
* Stay indoors and in an air-conditioned environment.
* Increase fluid intake regardless of activity level. Don't wait until thirsty to drink fluids. Ensure infants and children drink adequate amounts of liquids.
* Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Avoid very cold beverages, because they can cause stomach cramps.
* Do not leave infants, children or pets unattended in a parked car.