KINGMAN- Nobody who lives in the desert is surprised when summer's daytime temperatures top 100 degrees, but even seasoned desert rats can get caught off guard when the mercury trips the century mark nearly three weeks before summer's arrival.
Temperatures are expected to surpass triple digits as early as today, so clean air conditioner filters, grab a couple extra cases of bottled water, clean out the pool if applicable and be ready to embrace oven-like conditions over the weekend.
Regardless of how acclimated to summertime weather in Arizona you think you might be, heat can be a nasty beast if you're not prepared. Along with the searing steering wheels, melting playground equipment and general attitudes inflamed by the hot weather, here are some things to be aware of to help prepare to make the best of a heated situation:
The sudden spike in temperatures has local officials worried.
"We think there will be an influx of medical (911) calls," said KFD Battalion Chief Chris Angermuller.
The KFD is anticipating an increase in heat related illnesses and encourages people to stay hydrated and out of the sun as much as possible. Any outdoors work should be done early in the morning or well after dusk.
"My concern is, people haven't had time to adapt," said Kingman Deputy Police Chief Rusty Cooper. "We usually get these temps in late July, early August. By then, our bodies have adapted to the heat."
Another concern has to do with fire risk, as many people will turn on the air conditioner or evaporative cooler for the first time of the year this week and most won't have the units inspected before they flip the switch. Angermuller said the department is prepared to respond to incidents, but people will largely be on their own.
The most important thing people can do, he said, is check on neighbors and their pets, particularly if they are elderly, ill, or have inadequate cooling or no means to cool down.
Response plans in case of power outages are in place.
"We assist the fire departments if it's deemed needed," said Mohave County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Trish Carter.
"People are generally taken to the fire departments in their local area. We assist with getting them there. There have been times in the past where we went through neighborhoods passing out water telling them where the cooling stations were located and even help with transportation."
This one should be obvious, but it might be surprising how many people think they can get by on soda, energy drinks and beer, thinking their bodies won't eventually collapse and hit the pavement from lack of proper hydration.
Water is key to keeping body temperature regulated any time of the year, but when temperatures are hot enough to melt chip seal, drinking a few extra glasses throughout the day won't hurt.
Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke
Most heat related illnesses will be a result of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Exposure to the sun, lack of hydration and overexertion will be the biggest factors. Proper planning can mean the difference between needing shade for a few minutes and a visit to the emergency room.
"The important thing is to recognize the symptoms and know what to do," said Teri Williams, Director of Communications at Kingman Regional Medical Center.
KRMC isn't planning to boost efforts during the heatwave.
"We're prepared for heat related issues at all times," she said. "It doesn't necessitate extra staff, but we have them ready should the need arise."
Williams reiterated the need to avoid being outside if at all possible.
"Stay indoors as much as you can. If you don't have air conditioning at home, seek out a library or theater or someplace else that does."
Detailed information on heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be found at http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp
Western Arizona Humane Society reminds everyone to make sure pets have plenty of water and shade.
"This time of year we get more animals coming in. They do get out. With the change in the weather animals will look for a cool place if they don't have adequate shelter," said WAHS representative Diane Ramos.
Not leaving them in cars, even with windows cracked, is the best idea. It can take minutes for the temperatures in a vehicle to reach fatal levels.
Leaving a person of any age in hot car is a surefire way to face criminal charges. Police and sheriff's deputies can use force to enter a vehicle or home to rescue a person or animal in duress.
"That's part of our job to save and protect," said Mohave County Sheriff Jim McCabe.
The lines are blurred between the actions of civilians and law enforcement when it comes to animals.
An Arizona statute (ARS 13-2910) states that knowingly leaving an animal unattended or confined and injury or death is possible can result in a Class 1 misdemeanor charge.
"I don't think there's a whole lot of empathy for people who leave animals in cars," McCabe said.
Be careful if you do decide to break into a car yourself however.
"In this litigious age, there's always the possibility of civil liability."
Arizona Game and Fish confirmed the critters are out, especially snakes.
"Snakes are starting to become active. They're feeding at night and in the morning. During the heat of the day, they'll be looking to stay cool," said Matt Chmiel, Aquatic Program Manager. "In the evening they want to warm on the pavement as the temperatures fall and then head back for shade during the day."
Some snakebites can be painful but harmless. Medical attention should be sought to prevent infection. In the event of a rattlesnake bite, promptly head to the nearest emergency room.
"We do stock antivenin for different varieties of snakes," Williams clarified. "We're ready to treat snakebites in the ER."
Kingman does not have a toxicology clinic, so be prepared for a ride to Phoenix or Las Vegas for further treatment.
"You'll need antivenin to be stabilized."
Keep your eyes peeled if you're near creeks, rivers or lakes.
"Animals are going to be seeking water so you might see more wildlife near water," Chmiel said.
Modified pool hours have been put in place to accommodate Centennial Pool repairs that ran longer than expected.
The Grandview Pool will be open for open swim 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
"We are hoping to open (Centennial Pool) Friday," said recreation coordinator for City of Kingman Ryan Fruhwirth.
Extended hours at Grandview are a contingency but Fruhwirth expects repairs to be completed on time.
"We usually have a busy first week with the kids getting out of school. This is a just a perfect storm. This is the obvious logical fit and the cheapest and most accessible family fun in Kingman."
He also gave advice on staying cool this weekend.
"We always recommend to anyone who does outside activity to pack tons of water and stay in the shade whenever possible. Stay cool and limit exposure."
More info on parks and pools can be found at www.cityofkingman.gov.