Dog Days#8217; grip R-C area By Cal Bryant 07/18/2006 Head indoors and crank-up the AC because the dog days of summer are here. The National Weather Service totally agrees with that aforementioned sta

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Head indoors and crank-up the AC because the dog days of summer are here.

The National Weather Service totally agrees with that aforementioned statement.

NWS officials in Wakefield, Va. have issued a Hazardous Weather Advisory for all of northeastern North Carolina and southside Virginia during the upcoming week.

With a dome of high pressure parked over the region, weather officials expect daily high temperatures to reach well into the 90’s, but that isn’t their only worry.

Coupled with high humidity readings, the heat index can easily exceed 100 degrees.

With a high forecasted at 97 degrees on Tuesday, the heat index is expected to climb as high as 110.

Forecasters are not predicting any breaks in the heatwave for the remainder of the week where daily highs are expected in the low to mid 90’s. Overnight lows will be in the mid 70’s.

If that forecast holds true, by Sunday of this week the number of consecutive 90-degree days will reach 13. The last sub-90 high temperature was a “cool” 89 degrees reported on Monday, July 10 at Tri-County Airport.

The average daily high at Tri-County Airport was listed at 82.6 degrees during the month of June.

Apparently, the “dog days” theory applies for 2006.

Early astronomers hailed the period between July 3 and Aug. 11 as the “Dog Days of Summer” in reference to Sirius (the “dog star”) rising and setting with the sun during that period. Sirius, which also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky, was a source of added heat, or so the ancient Romans believed.

Whatever the belief, it’s hot in July of 2006, so much to the point that local health officials have suggested the following ways to help cope with the high temperatures:

Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4-7 a.m.

Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Try to go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours. Remember, electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate, which cools your body.

Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy.

Drink plenty of water regularly and often. Your body needs water to keep cool.

Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty.

Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat’s effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which dehydrates the body.

Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.

Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

It’s also good to understand your body’s signals that it is overheating:

Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are an early signal that the body is having trouble with the heat. Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse.

Heat exhaustion: Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal. Get the person out of the heat and into a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. If the person is conscious, give cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Let the victim rest in a comfortable position and watch carefully for changes in his or her condition.

Heat stroke: Hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high– as high as 105 degrees F. If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry. Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water or is vomiting or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.