With temperatures reaching extreme levels throughout Arkansas, a number of organizations are finding ways to help keep residents cool.

With temperatures reaching extreme levels throughout Arkansas, a number of organizations are finding ways to help keep residents cool.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Matthew Clay said Thursday that temperatures will stay in the 90-100 degree range for at least the next 10 days throughout the state.

“Dew points are going to increase next week and this will cause the heat index to get higher,” Clay said. “Much of the state of Arkansas is presently under a heat advisory.”

The temperature in Pine Bluff reached 102 degrees Thursday and 107 degrees in Little Rock, with the Little Rock reading the city’s highest ever recorded June temperature, according to the NWS. Clay said the reason for the heat is due to a strong ridge of high pressure over the state.

“There is the possibility of our temperatures not changing much through late July or August,” Clay said. “There is a chance for isolated showers through the middle of next week, but the chances for rainfall are slim.”

Cooling centers

To help residents cope with the extreme heat, the Salvation Army at 501 E. 12th Ave. has opened a cooling center available to the public Sunday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

“Any time the temperature reaches 100 degrees or higher, citizens can come to the center to cool down and have a free bottle of water,” Nina Brown, Salvation Army office manager, said.

The cooling center is located in the building’s front lobby Monday through Friday and inside the shelter on Sunday.

“Anyone is welcome to come in, have a seat and get out of the heat,” Brown said.

Several residents were taking advantage of the center Thursday afternoon.

“I think it’s dramatic and extreme,” Kerry Gipson Sr. said. “They have a good open door policy. I’m glad to have a place to cool down.”

Earl Hall Jr. was also enjoying the cool place to rest.

“The heat is just unstoppable,” Hall said. “I’m happy that the Salvation Army is offering this. It’s a great place to be.”

Both men agreed that the atmosphere was very friendly.

The Salvation Army at Pine Bluff is among several in Arkansas open. Little Rock has opened 10 alert centers open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and four community centers.

The elderly

The Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas is doing its best to ensure that the elderly stay cool during the summer weather.

“The agency has been collecting fans from the community to hand out to any elderly resident in need of one,” Sharon Dickerson, director of Homecare Services, said.

“When case managers go out to check on their patients they check to make sure the proper ventilation exists in their residence,” Dickerson said. “If they don’t, the agency will find a way to get them a fan or an air conditioner. We are doing everything that we can for them.”

Health concerns

The city of Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department is offering tips to residents to help them cope with the extreme heat and to ensure that all enjoy a safe summer. Residents are advised not to over exert themselves in high temperatures because of the danger of heat-related conditions, the department said in a news release.

Heat-related dangers include sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. When going outside be sure to put on sunscreen lotion with a high sun protection factor to avoid sunburn. For the treatment of sunburn, various over the counter ointments can be applied to relieve the pain and speed up the healing process, the release said.

Brigette Williams, community affairs director for the American Red Cross Greater Arkansas Region in Little Rock, explained some of the warning signs of heat-related illnesses.

“There have already been six heat-related deaths nationwide this year,” Williams said.

Williams said that the warning signs of heat cramps are leg and hand cramping and occasional spasms.

“Heat cramps come from losing fluids and electrolytes, so it is important to stay hydrated and keep drinking liquids,” Williams said.

Williams said that signs of heat exhaustion include feeling cool, having a pale face and breathing very heavily.

“You may begin to feel light headed and it is important to get into a cool place and slowly sip water,” Williams said.

Signs of heat stroke include feeling warm, dry and light-headed.

“Your body temperature is rising and it can be very dangerous,” Williams said. “It is important to cool down and if symptoms get worse contact emergency services immediately.”

The Red Cross is offering a free app for the IPhone and Android called Red Cross, that offers tips, warning signs and other information. For details, visit their website at www.arkansasredcross.org.

Fire safety

Lt. Harold Clark, public Information officer with the fire department, reminds the public that Jefferson County is under a burn ban, making it against the law to burn anything outdoors.

The ban won’t impact the Pine Bluff, White Hall and Redfield July 4th fireworks displays. According to county officials, those events will continue as planned.

Meanwhile, Clark advised motorists to be mindful of how they handle cigarette butts, explaining that they constitute an extreme fire danger.

“Make sure it is extinguished,” Clark said. “The safe thing to do is put the butt out in water.”

Clark said that people planning to grill must keep an eye on it and keep it away from the home.

“Be sure to have water nearby and try to keep the grill in the shade,” Clark said.

Pet safeguards

Vicky Deweese, a member of the Jefferson County Humane Society board of directors, provided information on the best way to keep pets cool throughout the summer. Outdoor pets must be provided with fresh or even ice water and need a shaded area to lie down.

“Some foster shelters have even begun to put oscillating fans on the animals to keep them cool,” Deweese said. “If animals are being kept in kennels, cover it with a tarp to keep the sun off of the animal. If you’re able to keep them indoors that is the best way to ensure their safety from the weather.”

Michael S. Lee contributed to this article.