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      Staying safe in the extreme heat

      Columbia's official temperature hit 101 for the first time this year on Monday.

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Dangerous heat has settled into the Midlands as we head toward the start of summer, which begins at 1:16 p.m. on Tuesday. Are you prepared for it?

      On the last day of spring, Columbia lived up to its name. The mercury in the famously hot city reached 101 degrees, and temperatures are expected to reach triple digits Tuesday.

      The temperatures may be tempting to some, but USC Exercise Science professor Teresa Moore says the weather can be dangerous to all without the proper precautions.

      If you are acclimated or used to exercising that is one thing, however, now is not the time to get out and start a program," recommends Moore. "If you are going outside you want to drink at least one or two glasses of water beforehand.

      We all know that triple digit heat happens in South Carolina, but it seems like every time it happens some type of heat related illness occurs that should have easily been avoided.

      Between 2005 and 2009, more than 50 people died due to heat-related illnesses, according to spokesman Adam Myrick of the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

      Just be very mindful of what your body is trying to tell you, Myrick adds.

      Infants, children and the elderly are at greater risk for heat-related illnesses, which if not treated can be life-threatening.

      If you have the flexibility, go out in the early morning or in the late evening, says Myrick. There is still plenty of daylight on both sides of that spectrum.

      Officials offer these tips to help you stay cool:

      - Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, which will allow air to circulate around your body and keep it cool.- Eat small meals and eat often.- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol in them.- If you work outdoors, take frequent breaks in shaded areas.- Protect your skin from the sun TMs harmful rays by covering up and using sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher.

      By the end of the week temperatures will be a little closer to normal around 90 degrees.

      Click here to get the latest SkyWACH Weather Forecast.