Horrible heat brings reminders of danger.

Searing heat hit the region like a freight train.

After a pleasant weekend, the region was smacked with blast furnace-like weather usually reserved for the summer months.

Garden City's high soared to a blistering and record-setting 108 degrees Monday, and the area forecast called for a string of high temperatures topping the century mark.

Sadly, it's the same old refrain for southwest Kansas. Last year, a June heat wave was so nasty that it was a reminder of the previous year's vicious onslaught of heat, when the region endured the hottest July since official weather information was first recorded in 1946.

But that was July. As for last year, the early heat arrived before the official start of summer, which begins June 21 this year.

Unfortunately, it's a troubling trend in horribly hot weather arriving earlier the kind of development that delivers a stark reminder of the need to be prepared.

Everyone should use caution when going outside, whether it's to work or participate in other outdoor activities that may not seem strenuous, but can be perilous in extreme heat.

Hot weather can attack anyone. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other ailments may occur with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity when temperatures soar.

The National Weather Service reminds people to drink plenty of water; wear lightweight, light-colored clothing; take plenty of breaks during outdoor activity; and avoid prolonged exposure between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on hot days.

People also should keep an eye on elderly and disabled friends and neighbors, and others without air conditioning or other means to stay cool.

Pets should be kept indoors whenever it's extremely hot. When that's not possible, they need plenty of fresh, clean water and shady places to cool off. Never leave a dog or cat inside a parked vehicle in the heat, even for a few moments.

This year's earlier-than-normal heat wave points to more miserable days ahead.

Think ahead before going outdoors. Find ways to stay cool and keep an eye on those most vulnerable.

As always, some extra kindness and attention could be a lifesaver.