Heat wave expected to subside soon

Published 11:32 pm Friday, July 27, 2012

Paige Ingalls braves the nearly 100-degree temperatures while practicing her serve at the Washington High School tennis courts Friday. The weather is expected to cool off in the coming days. (WDN Photo/Sara Cowell)

The heat wave may hit a low tide this weekend. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the rest of the week will see a dip in the 97-degree temperatures Beaufort County saw Friday.
“There will be better chances of thunderstorms, it’ll be cloudier, we’ll have more rain,” said Chris Collins, meteorologist with the NWS. “Friday was our last hot day. That’ll be it for a while.”
In the 16 years of records available, Collins said this month came in as the fourth hottest July for eastern North Carolina.
And it’s taken its toll on local residents, said Vidant Beaufort Hospital spokesperson Pam Shadle. She said the emergency room has seen an increase in heat-related illness.
“We’ve probably seen two to three patients a day over the past week,” she said. “It’s mainly been dehydration.”
Statewide, the Department of Health and Human Services reported nearly 700 cases of heat-related emergency room cases. Common references in triage notes were working outside (i.e. police work, electricians) and outdoor recreation (i.e. golf, on the pier, motorcycle riding) and the majority of the cases were among 25- to 64-year-old men.
The Vidant Beaufort Hospital emergency room staff recommended staying indoors during the hottest parts of the day; increasing fluid intake; and saving outdoor activities for evenings and early morning hours.
With so many seeking shelter indoors, the county’s power usage has been up. But the increase has not been enough to cause brownouts in the area, said Keith Hardt, electric utilities director for the city of Washington.
“(The increased usage) is nothing that we didn’t expect to see,” Hardt said.

General Tips to Avoid Heat-Related Illness

  • Drink plenty of water or fruit and vegetable juices. Avoid caffeine or alcohol.
  • Limit your time outdoors, especially in the afternoon when the day is hottest.
  • Be careful about exercising or doing a lot of activities when it is hot. Stay out of the sun, take frequent breaks, drink water or juice often, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Dress for the weather. Loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothes are cooler than dark colors or some synthetics.
  • If you live in a home without fans or air conditioning, open windows to allow air flow, and keep shades, blinds or curtains drawn in the hottest part of the day or when the windows are in direct sunlight. Try to spend at least part of the day in an air conditioned place like a shopping mall, a store, the library, a friend’s house, or the movies. Cool showers can help, too. Do not use a fan when the air temperature is above 95 degrees – it will blow hot air, which can add to heat stress.
  • Never leave a child or a disabled or elderly person or a pet in an unattended car, even with the windows down. A closed vehicle can heat up to dangerous levels in as little as 10 minutes.

Source: N.C. Department of Health and Human Services