Beaufort County’s heating up

Published 6:39 pm Saturday, June 13, 2015



Though summer’s start is a date on the calendar — June 21 — in eastern North Carolina, nature rarely is kind enough to wait until the actual date to send blistering temperatures this way. This year is no exception, as temps are expected to climb into the high 90s early this week.

The threat of heat is not one to underestimate. Heatstroke is very real danger for people and pets. Between 1998 and 2011, over 500 children in the United States died from being left inside hot cars — most of them under the age of 2. Every year, hundreds of pets die because pet owners leave them in hot cars while they’re out running errands, not realizing that in just 10 minutes, with the windows of the car cracked, the interior temperature of the car can skyrocket 20 degrees.

Heatstroke is caused by the body overheating, usually because someone has been in the heat too long or because they’ve been exerting themselves in the heat. Yard work, sports, a hot day in the sun — any one can lead to heatstroke. That’s something to be aware of this week as Beaufort County gets its first dose of hot weather for the year.

Some of the signs of heatstroke are pretty obvious: when heatstroke is brought on by hot weather, the skin is hot and dry to the touch, when it should be damp with sweat. Less obvious is that excessive sweating is a symptom of heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise. Racing heart, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, headaches are all signs of heatstroke. The one inarguable of heatstroke, however, is a body temperature at or in excess of 104 degrees.

The most important thing to do when someone has heatstroke is to seek immediate medical help, but before the EMTs arrive in the ambulance, witnesses can assist: get the heatstroke victim into the shade or indoors, remove excess clothing and cool them down with whatever’s available — a tub of cool water, cool cloths, even a garden hose.

But before heatstroke becomes a real risk, those seeking some summer fun in the sun can take precautions: drink plenty of water, stick to the shade, especially midday, and stay away from unventilated spaces. Drinking alcohol will only make the risk higher, as it affects the body’s ability to regulate temperature.

People can arm themselves with the tools to prevent heatstroke. Animal can’t. It’s never okay to leave an animal in a car with cracked windows for any amount of time in the warmer weather. Those who witness someone doing just that are well within their rights to call law enforcement.