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Extreme temperatures in the West trigger health concerns

Heat warnings or advisories are posted in parts of eight western states with temperatures of 120 degrees not out of the question for parts of California, Nevada and Arizona into next week. Residents are advised to protect themselves and their pets. The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel reports.

A sizzling heat wave sent temperatures soaring and records tumbling in Western states on Saturday, leading to one suspected heat-related death and prompting officials to urge people to stay inside and take extra precautions.

Las Vegas' McCarran airport tied a record for the day at 115 degrees, and at a National Weather Service office in the southwest section of the city the thermometer spiked up to 118 degrees. In Death Valley, Calif., it was 124 degrees. 

A Las Vegas Fire & Rescue crew responded to a report of an elderly man in cardiac arrest at residence without air conditioning on Saturday. When paramedics arrived, they found the man was dead, NBC station KSNV reported. The man, who was not identified, did have medical issues but paramedics characterized his death as heat-related.

Another elderly man whose car air conditioner went out while on a road trip fell sick, stopped and called 911. He was admitted to the hospital and reported in serious condition. 

It was so hot in Nevada that rangers at Lake Mead persuaded tourists not to hike, according to the National Park Service, which posted the warning on its Facebook page.

In Phoenix, the temperature rose to 119 degrees — the fourth hottest day in recorded history in the desert city.

Two cities in Texas — San Antonio (108 degrees) and Houston (107 degrees) — set all-time highs for the month of June.


“Where it is hot now it it’ll stay hot,” said Weather Channel meteorologist Mark Ressler.

Several records were also set in California, with Palm Springs hitting 122 degrees, beating the previous high from 1994, according to the National Weather Service.


While some states such as Colorado and New Mexico may be beginning to cool, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana will continue to experience all-time temperature highs at least for the next two weeks, Ressler said.

“The ridge doesn’t completely go away in the next 2 weeks, so temperatures will come down somewhat but there’s no time soon where it will turn into the east coast where they are experiencing below average  temperatures, “ he said.

“The heat will stay west and there will be no great break in heat anytime soon.”

Such extreme weather was causing health concerns. On Friday, 200 people were treated for heat problems at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, where it was 115 degrees.

Dr. Kein Reilly with University of Arizona Department of Emergency Medicine told NBC News Tucson affiliate KVOA that Arizona residents should stay inside and drink plenty of water.

"If you get dizzy or light headed those are some signs of dehydration. If you become confused that's a real warning sign. That's someone who needs to come into the emergency department," Reilly said.

Julie Jacobson / AP

From left, Subrina Madrid, Sarah Hudak, Jennifer, Shackelford, all of North Las Vegas, Nev., sit in the shallow waters along Boulder Beach at Lake Mead, Saturday, June 29, 2013 near Boulder City, Nevada. The three planned to spend the day at the lake to escape the heat in Las Vegas.

Cooling stations were set up to shelter the homeless as well as elderly people who can't afford to run their air conditioners,  Phoenix, Ariz, Sheriff Joe Arpaio told NBC News affiliate KSNV.

Keeping people cool is not the only concern in the heat.

“If it’s hot for you it’s hot for your pet, and ultimately we are their voice so we are responsible for them. Use common sense,” said Bretta Nelson, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Humane Society.

Nelson suggests keeping your pets indoors and making sure they are hydrated. If you need to take your pet for a walk keep it quick, said Nelson. She also suggests foot booties for hot cement.

“It’s important to understand pets have to have shelter shade plenty of drinking water and if they don’t they can result in animal cruelty charges,” she said.

The same rules apply for people.

“As much as possible have constant water available and also stay inside in air conditioning those are two things I would suggest,” said Ressler.

Ressler said record highs are expected over the next few days, and record highs this time of year mean, “it is extremely hot.”

NBC News' Jeff Black contributed to this report.

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