Temperatures expected to hit the 90's; experts offer tips to stay safe in heat

Posted at 6:46 AM, Jun 21, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. --With temperatures expected to hit 90 degrees for the next few days, it's more important than ever to know how to keep yourself cool and safe.

Katie Carter with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management says if you have to be outside this weekend, try to avoid strenuous activities, drink plenty of water beforehand and wear light clothing to keep yourself cool.

If you have a job that requires you to be outdoors, Carter says to take plenty of breaks indoors, and don’t use electric fans when the temperature outside is more than 95 degrees.

This could actually increase your risk of heat-related illness because fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort, but they don’t actually reduce body temperature.

By Sunday, Central Virginia will officially be in extreme heat territory, which often results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.

A lot of those deaths could be caused by heat stroke. Signs of heat stroke include paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness and confusion.

"One of the really big things that you will see out of heat stroke is actually that you'll stop sweating," noted Carter. "And that's actually scary because your body is not regulating the heat. So, if somebody is not sweating, if they have rapid shallow breaths, that is also a sign of heatstroke. If heatstroke goes on untreated, if you don't take somebody to the emergency room who is experiencing the symptoms, it could lead to brain damage, liver damage, really scary things."

Under Virginia state law, companion animals aren't allowed to be tethered outside when the temperature is 85 degrees or higher, so be sure to bring your pets inside this weekend too.

Other tips to stay safe in the head include:
--Never leave a child, adult, or animal alone inside a vehicle on a warm day.
--Find places with air conditioning. Libraries, shopping malls, and community centers can provide a cool place to take a break from the heat.
--If you’re outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face.
--Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
--Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you or someone you care for is on a special diet, ask a doctor how best to accommodate it.
--Avoid high-energy activities.
-- Check yourself, family members, and neighbors for signs of heat-related illness.

And this weekend, Richmond and Petersburg are offering cooling shelters to those trying to escape the heat.

In Richmond you can cool off at all Richmond Public Library location and that the Department of Social Services' Marshall Plaza building and the Department of Social Services' Southside Plaza building.

Those locations will be open from 11:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m.

In Petersburg, a cooling comfort station has been opened at the Petersburg Transit Center. That location will bbe open from 10:00 a.m. till 6:00 p.m.

Cooling stations in both cities will be open Monday through Saturdays for the rest of the summer.

And later this month, the inclement weather shelter at 1900 Camberlayne Avenue will open and provide 100 walk-up beds. They operate from 11:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. on any day when temperatures reach or exceed 92 degrees.

Richmond City Hall will function as a temporary cooling station on city holidays and on Sundays until the inclement weather shelter opens.

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