Heat wave arrives

Published 6:53 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hang in there, a cool front is on the way.

However, until its passage, northeastern North Carolina is expected to bake under the season’s first heat wave.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos urged North Carolinians to exercise caution in anticipation of the first wave of 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher temperatures expected to come to the state over the next few days.

“While all of our state’s residents are feeling the effects of high temperatures, we have seen a higher number of emergency department visits among males 25 to 64 years of age,” Wos said. “All individuals should spend time daily in air conditioning, increase fluid intake, move outdoor activities to cooler times of the day when possible, and consult their physician if they take medicines that impact the body’s ability to cool itself.”

The National Weather Service Office in Wakefield, VA is forecasting a high temperature today at 96 degrees in the local Roanoke-Chowan area. Heat index values could reach 100 degrees.

North Carolina’s Operation Fan/Heat Relief program is continuing to distribute no-cost fans across the state to people 60 or older and adults with disabilities. These citizens may be eligible to receive one fan per year to help alleviate heat problems within their home. In certain counties, air conditioners are made available for people with more serious health problems. Contact the Senior Center or Office of Aging in your county for more details about this program.

Since 1986, the Operation Fan/Heat Relief program has distributed fans and air conditioners to seniors in need through regional area agencies on aging offices. Last year, donations totaled $85,500, and with these funds 6,242 fans and 55 air conditioners were distributed. The project is made possible through donations from Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Progress Energy and the Valassis Giving Committee.

 Hot Weather Tips

Talk with your doctor and be aware of the medications you take and how they may affect you. For example, know that painkillers can reduce awareness of the heat, and diuretics, which promote fluid loss, can lead to dehydration more often during hot weather.

Drink plenty of liquids such as water, fruit or vegetable juices to replace the fluids lost by sweating. As a person ages, thirst declines.

During high temperatures (above 95 degrees Fahrenheit) try to spend some part of every day in air conditioning. Join your local senior center http://www.ncdhhs.gov/aging/scenters/scenters.htm or take advantage of buildings made accessible to seniors during excessive heat. Visit a mall or library or a friend with air conditioning if you do not have access to it.

Move outdoor activities indoors or to the cooler parts of the day (morning, evening) when possible.

Take the heat seriously, and do not ignore danger signs like nausea, dizziness or lightheadedness, fatigue, confusion, labored breathing, chest discomfort, and rapid or erratic pulse.  These can all be signs of heat illness, which can be deadly. Get to a cool place, drink cool water slowly and seek medical help.

The passage of a front will lower temps, as well as humidity levels, on Friday through the weekend. The NWS forecast calls for sunny skies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with highs in the mid 80’s. Overnight lows during that period will be in the 60’s.