You already know this, but it’s hot

Published 9:55 pm Friday, July 19, 2019

You may have already felt this way before the warning, but the National Weather Service in Wakefield has officially confirmed that this recent spate of heat we’re experiencing in Suffolk is, indeed, excessive.

But when you’re on a long drive from Lynchburg to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and you’re the parents of three restless boys under the age of 6, you step out of your car and into the Suffolk sauna.

So, in the case of Heather Wicks and her family, they stopped for a brief break at the playground at Lake Meade Park on Friday to let her boys tire themselves out so they would nap for the rest of their drive.

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“We just needed to give our boys a break from the long car ride and let them run around a little bit,” Wicks said.

And run they did.

They explored every inch of the KidsZone playground, with her twin 16-month-old boys, Sammy and Alex, on the loose, and 5-year-old Spenser, the heat fazing them little other than having rosy cheeks after about 15 minutes.

At that point, the Wickses prepared to get back in the car and continue their journey for their weekend trip, taking shade under a picnic shelter to change the twins.

Initially, she was surprised no one else was out at the playground around 2 p.m. Friday, figuring that it was such a nice playground not to be in use, as she was unaware of the excessive heat warning in effect. And, having grown up in hot conditions in the desert of southern California, the heat doesn’t bother her much. Still…

“If we lived here, we probably wouldn’t be out either,” Wicks said.


Excessive heat warning

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning from 11 a.m. Friday through 11 p.m. Sunday. High temperatures are expected to hover around, or slightly south of, 100 degrees through Monday, with heat indices reaching 110 to 115 degrees during the day through Sunday afternoon, and will be over 100 degrees Monday. Temperatures have been in the mid-90s for much of the past week, and heat indices of around 105.

It warns that “prolonged exposure or any strenuous activity may lead to heat-related illnesses that require immediate medical attention,” and advises those who work or spend time outside to reschedule those activities to early morning or evening hours, if possible, and wear sunblock along with light and loose fitting clothing. And, of course, drink plenty of water.

But at least Suffolk is not alone in the suffering.

Much of the country is in the midst of a heat wave that has high temperatures — never mind the heat indices — at 100 or above, with the National Weather Service estimating that more than 100 heat records could fall on Saturday — not the daytime highs themselves, but for the nighttime low temperatures to set records highs.

The agency issued a national advisory warning of a dangerous heat wave that will continue through the weekend. It covers much of the eastern two-thirds of the country.

The city encouraged residents to visit public libraries, city hall and the Suffolk Health and Human Services building if they needed respite from the heat last week.

The heat wave has also affected numerous events around the area. The Suffolk YMCA’s Camp Arrowhead canceled outdoor activities for Thursday and Friday due to the heat. Family Fridays at the parks this week moved indoors due to the extreme heat.

From July 11-18, city spokesman Tim Kelley said, there had been eight heat-related calls to dispatch.


Take care of your car

AAA Tidewater Virginia noted that roadside assistance calls increase in the Hampton Roads region when temperatures get near 100 degrees and issued its own heat advisory about the threat such temperatures pose to vehicles.

“High heat can cause auto parts to fail and leave motorists stranded,” said Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia in a news release. “AAA advises motorists to take preventive measures during extended periods of very high heat expected this week.”

AAA offers the same advice about keeping activities to early morning or evening hours. It also advises against running a car’s air conditioning system in continuous stop-and-go traffic conditions and instead roll down the car’s windows. Also, drivers should leave extra space between vehicles to prevent their engines from drawing in hot exhaust.

Other advice from AAA includes:

  • Keep an eye on your vehicle’s temperature gauge to ensure it doesn’t overheat.
  • Test your car’s battery and make sure it is strong enough, and make sure you have enough oil and coolant in your vehicle.
  • Keep tires in good conditions and make sure they are properly inflated.
  • Keep a fully charged cellphone.

If you’re looking for it to cool off during the day, you’ll have to wait until Tuesday, when the forecasted high is a more comfortable 83 degrees.