Heat warnings issued

Published 9:43 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The sign at Southern Bank on West Constance Road recorded the temperature at 100 degrees about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Temperatures will be high again today, so health officials urge people to stay cool and hydrated.

The National Weather Service forecast for Suffolk confirms what the northward-creeping mercury has been hinting at — the heat is on.

According to the service, Suffolk will endure heat index values as high as 102 degrees today, and temperatures will nudge 93 degrees tomorrow.

“As temperatures rise, so does the risk of heat-related illness,” Dr. S. William Berg, Hampton Health Department health director, stated in a press release.

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“According to our statistics, almost 31 percent of the hyperthermia cases, which were related to extreme heat, involved individuals who were engaging in outside activity such as gardening.

“Twenty-six percent of the hyperthermia cases were individuals who were inside without air conditioning.”

According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 2011 saw 10 heat-related deaths in Virginia.

The Hampton Health Department says one of the best precautions against heat-related illness is to schedule or reschedule any outdoor activities, including work, to the coolest parts of the day.

In the summer, sunlight exposure is greatest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Other tips include keeping cool in an air-conditioned area, taking a cool shower or bath, and visiting the mall, a local library or a friend with air conditioning.

“Spending at least two hours per day in air conditioning significantly reduces the number of heat-related illnesses,” the press release states.

“When temperatures reach the upper 90s or above, a fan may not prevent heat-related illness.”

Health experts advise drinking two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour, and drinking fruit juice or a sports beverage to replace salt and minerals sweated out by the body during exercise or when working outside.

But they also recommend that those on a fluid-restricted diet or medications, or a low-salt diet, consult their doctor first.

Other tips include using high-SPF sunscreen and wearing light clothing and a hat to avoid sunburn, which limits the body’s ability to self-cool.

Limit physical activity until your body adjusts to the heat, the experts say, and never leave children or pets in cars.

When doing anything outside, make sure someone knows your plans. “If you’re working outside and suffer a heat-related illness, you could become confused or could lose consciousness,” the press release states.

Predicted high temperatures drop to 88 degrees on Saturday, and are tipped to remain slightly below 90 through the end of Tuesday.

More hot-weather safety information can be found at www.vdh.virginia.gov.