MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A stretch of heat like we’re going to experience this week can be dangerous.

When we have several days of high heat and humidity in a row, health officials worry about people not getting a break and therefore putting their health at risk.

Each year about 175 Americans die of complications from overheating.

Temperatures are forecasted to be in the high 80s and low 90s all week with dew points in the 60s, making it feel muggy and tropical.

Hennepin County is trying to get the word out that there are plenty of places with air conditioning that will welcome you during these hot days.

In Minnesota, we don’t get that many hot days, so when they arrive, it’s easy to find children celebrating.

But it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and prolonged exposure to heat can lead to heat exhaustion.

“We get worried about the people who behave as if nothing is different, and that means instead of moderate exercise they continue to exercise strenuously for long periods of time,” said Bill Belknap, communications manager for Hennepin County Public Health. “They don’t change their behavior at all.”

Those at highest risk for heat exhaustion are young children, senior citizens and people who are already sick. They’re particularly vulnerable when they stay inside all day, without air conditioning.

“The symptoms are headache, nausea, fatigue,” Belknap said. “It can sneak up on a person without them realizing it.”

Hennepin County Public Health created an online map to help people find public places to cool off indoors. (To access the map, users can go to the Hennepin County website and click on Public Health Emergencies.)

“Find yourself a place where there is air conditioning and spend a couple of hours there,” Belknap said. “Even a couple hours a day makes a difference. It brings the body temperature back down.”

Most of the locations are recreation centers open for most of the day and into the evening.

“There are designated places — every library, most community centers and some other facilities — that have opened their doors and basically said, ‘We are open anyway and it’s okay if you come in, even if you are not checking out a book,'” he said.

That online map created by Hennepin County public health has been improved this year so that it will work on your handheld devices.

Other health reminders during this heatwave: Wear light-colored clothes, drink plenty of water and try to avoid strenuous activity during the warmest times of the day.

For more information on the warning signs of heat exhaustion, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Minnesota Department of Health.

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