Enjoy summer responsibly

Published 9:40 pm Thursday, June 21, 2012

Right on schedule with the changing of the seasons this week came Southeast Virginia’s legendary oppressive heat and humidity. Area residents might have hoped that the largely mild conditions this spring would continue through the summer, but those hopes were dashed on Wednesday, as temperatures climbed near the triple-digits mark.

Surely anyone who has lived around here for very long couldn’t have been surprised, except perhaps at the time that it took for weather conditions to reach the hazy-hot-and-humid levels that define Virginia summers. And hoping for anything but more of the same for the next three months or so is probably an exercise in futility.

But even the most wizened of Tidewater residents can benefit from the occasional reminder that summer weather here can be more than just miserable — it can be deadly for those who don’t take it seriously and for those who are unprepared for it.

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That’s why area health departments issued a warning to Tidewater residents on Wednesday about the heat wave we’re experiencing and why they offered an array of suggestions about how to deal with the heat safely. Most of the tips are commonsense approaches to life in Virginia during the summer, but they bear repeating here:

  • Save physical exertion for the cooler part of the day, and take frequent breaks in the shade when you must be outside in the heat.
  • Wear sunscreen when you’re outside.
  • Find an air-conditioned place like a mall or a library to escape the heat if your home doesn’t have its own air conditioning.
  • Drink plenty of cool liquids — two to four glasses an hour if you’re outside — to help lower your body temperature, and drink juices or sports drinks to replenish the salt and other minerals your body loses when you sweat.
  • Never leave children or pets in cars.
  • Make sure someone knows if you’re going to be participating in physical activities outside.
  • And check on folks — especially the young and elderly — whom you know to be without air conditioning.

Tidewater residents have dealt with the summer heat for hundreds of years. But every year, we lose some folks to heat-related illnesses. Don’t let yourself or a loved one become a statistic this year. Enjoy the summer, but do it safely and responsibly.