ASHLAND — The heat index is predicted to go as high as 107 degrees on Wednesday, all while thousands in the area remain without power or air conditioning.

Around 23,000 people are still without power in the hardest-hit areas of Knox, Richland, and Ashland counties, following severe storms and high winds Monday night into early Tuesday morning.

For those still without power, OhioHealth nurse manager Adam Gibson recommends:

• Hydrating with non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks

• Keeping blinds and drapes closed to keep out the sun

• Taking a cool bath or shower, using icepacks or cool wet washcloths to keep cool

• Avoiding strenuous work and trying to avoid cooking indoors

If you need to get out of the house to cool off, there are community cooling centers available in Ashland, Knox, and Richland counties: 

• The Ashland County Emergency Management Agency recently released this list of cooling centers on their Facebook page. At the Kroc Center, community meals will be available from 11 a.m. to 11:30 am in the Community Room. Children’s meals will be available from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the Community Room (location change due to heat).

• In Mansfield, Berean Baptist Church at 2145 Middle Bellville Road has opened up their gym and locker rooms as a cooling and refreshment center from 1 to 8 p.m. today. Come by to get out of the heat, have a bottle of water or a shower. Enter through door F.

• Also in Mansfield, the Crossroads City Center is open until 4pm for cooling.

• In Galion, the Sleep Inn and Suites is open 11am-8pm and will offer cold beverages and frozen treats while supplies last.

• In Ontario, the Richland Mall is open until 7 pm as a cooling center.

• In Lexington, Fusion Church opened at 10am and will remain open as long as there is a need for community cooling.

• A cooling station in Bellville will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 24 Bell Street. 

Click here for an evolving list of cooling centers in Knox County. 

Residents should look out for symptoms of heat exhaustion like headache, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, confusion, excessive sweating, loss of appetite, pale and clammy skin, Gibson said.

Heat stroke symptoms include many of the same symptoms of heat exhaustion, in addition to high body temperature above 104 degrees, seizures, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, hot dry red skin, and rapid heart rate.

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of heat exhaustion, Gibson recommends moving to a cool place, elevating your legs, drinking fluids, and putting on loose and cool clothing. If symptoms do not improve or progress into heat stroke, call 911.

Checking in with neighbors, friends, and family is also key to preventing heat-related illnesses, Gibson said.

“The strength of our community are the people we live and work alongside,” he said. “Continue to look out for one another.”

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