Heat watch issued

Published 10:24 pm Friday, July 6, 2012

The National Weather Service has issued a excessive heat watch for Suffolk as yet another heat wave continues.

The heat index is expected to reach about 110 degrees on Saturday afternoon, with the hottest temperatures between 1 and 6 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

An air quality alert also is in effect until 9 p.m. Saturday. The Code Orange alert means individuals with respiratory or heart ailments, older adults and children should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.

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Residents are encouraged to drink plenty of water, stay in an air-conditioned building and check on relatives and neighbors. Those most likely to be affected by the heat are the elderly, children, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases.

“It is important to understand the need to stay hydrated and seek cool temperature environments until the heat subsides,” said Larry Hill, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Health.

He said there have been 10 heat-related deaths in Virginia since June 20. None of the deaths have been in Hampton Roads. Prolonged outdoor exposure and lack of air-conditioning were contributing factors in some of the deaths, he said.

The heat index on Sunday is forecast to reach 114. Next week, however, will bring some relief, with the high on Monday expected at 91 and highs the rest of the week in the mid-80s.

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside, including wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and drinking plenty of water. When possible, reschedule outdoor activities to the early morning or evening. When working outside, schedule frequent breaks in the shade or an air-conditioned environment.

Those spending time outside should avoid alcohol or sugary drinks, because they cause the body to lose more fluid.

Anyone in a non-air-conditioned environment should beware of heat stroke. Symptoms include an extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees); red, hot, dry skin that is not sweating; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; and nausea. If heat stroke is suspected, call 911; move the person to a cool, shady area; and cool him or her down using whatever methods necessary, including the shower or a garden hose.