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In the heat, be a good neighbor

It’s not even officially summer yet, and already Hampton Roads is dealing with hot temperatures and humidity levels that have pushed the heat index past 100 degrees.

Monday and Tuesday saw temperatures in the high 90s with heat indexes somewhere in the neighborhood of 105 to 108 degrees, which is extremely dangerous for people who work outdoors or for people, especially children, the elderly and those with certain medical conditions, who do not have air-conditioning in their homes.

It may not seem like a big deal — it’s hot all summer around here, after all — but according to Ready.gov, extreme heat often results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards in the United States.

That’s why it’s important to take precautions, even if you think you will be fine. It’s also important to check up on your neighbors and friends and make sure they are able to stay cool.

Ready.gov recommends the following tips during extreme heat:

  • Never leave a child, adult or animal alone inside a vehicle.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • If you’re outside, find shade. Wear a hat with a brim wide enough to protect your face.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Avoid high-energy activities.
  • Those without air-conditioning in their homes should relocate to a library or community center during the day. When the temperature is above 95 degrees, electric fans do not help and may even result in a false sense of comfort, as they create air flow but do not reduce body temperatures.

Folks should also watch out for signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting or fainting. Those affected should get to an air-conditioned place and lie down, loosen or remove clothing, take a cool bath and take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.

Signs of heatstroke include extremely high body temperature — above 103 degrees — taken orally; red, hot, dry skin with no sweat; rapid, strong pulse; dizziness; confusion; and unconsciousness. If you suspect heatstroke, call 911 immediately and cool them down by any means available until medical help arrives.

This week is the first this year, but likely not to be the last, when we’ll all need to pay attention to the heat and ensure we check on those around us. Be a good neighbor and help out.