Weather

More Intense Heat on the Way for Wednesday

Posted August 7, 2007 3:40 p.m. EDT
Updated August 8, 2007 1:27 p.m. EDT

— Hot, humid air continues to smother North Carolina and the nation, with temperatures reaching an official high of 99 degrees at Raleigh on Tuesday and more in store.

The Triangle wasn't alone, as National Weather Service stations recorded a 99 at Charlotte, 103 at Fayetteville, 104 at Lumberton and 100 at Roanoke Rapids and at Rocky Mount.

The National Weather Service on Tuesday night issued a heat advisory for western counties in the Triangle for Wednesday, including Durham and Orange, and an excessive heat warning for the eastern and southern sections.

In addition, the state Division of Air Quality issued a Code Orange health notice for most of North Carolina for Wednesday, which means air quality is likely to be unhealthy for those sensitive to air pollution.

Rex Hospital and WakeMed in Raleigh each reported at least two heat-related illnesses Tuesday afternoon. Numbers were not immediately available from Duke University Hospital.

Duke Energy reported system-wide usage peaked for the year Monday, with power customers using 18,208 megawatts of energy between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. as temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees in its 20-county service area. The all-time peak was broken July 27, 2005, with users consuming 18,687 megawatts in one hour.

Representatives for Progress Energy and North Carolina Electric Membership Corp. said it expected to break peak usage if the weather continues as forecast.

Temperatures are forecast to climb to the low 100s Wednesday with a heat index near 110 degrees, according to the WRAL WeatherCenter.

Triple-digit temperatures prompted state officials to issue warnings about the dangers of heat and to remind residents to be on alert for heat-related health problems.

“During these oppressively hot days it is crucial that those who are elderly, or have physical or medical conditions that are sensitive to high temperatures, take special care to keep safe," Gov. Mike Easley said.

Pets are at just as much risk for heat-related illnesses as their owners, warned officials with the Wake County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Leaving a pet alone in a closed car during hot weather is illegal in North Carolina, SPCA officials said. Temperatures can quickly soar to 120 degrees inside a closed car, said veterinarian Dr. Joe Gordon.

At least two Raleigh people have been charged with animal cruelty this summer.

Marcus Saylor, 20, left his brown-and-white rabbit outside in a cage without food or water, police said. Officers said they found the brown-and-white rabbit dead in the cage outside Saylor's apartment Monday.

A dachshund named Jay was rescued from a closed, hot car in the Crabtree Valley Mall in July, police said. A puppy died in a similar scenario on Memorial Day, police said.

SPCA volunteers hit the streets, passing out fliers to remind people of animal-cruelty laws and ask bystanders to report animals stranded in the heat.

"We're also educating the public to tell on pet owners who are not behaving responsibly. That's what's getting results," said Mondy Lamb, with the WCSPCA.

"The public is much more powerful than the SPCA alone," Lamb said.

Staying Safe in Hot Weather

Sensitive groups include infants and children up to 4 years old, people 65 or older, people who are excessively overweight or physically ill and those who work outdoors and might overexert during work or exercise, state health officials said.

The North Carolina Departments of Health and Human Services and Crime Control and Public Safety reminded the public of some tips to help avoid heat-related health problems. Among them:

  • Don't leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even for a few minutes.
     
  • Drink plenty of cool, nonalcoholic fluids, preferably water; if exercising or working outside, drink two to four glasses each hour, even if you don't feel thirsty.
     
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat along with sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. Use sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going outside.
     
  • Stay indoors, and, if possible, in an air-conditioned place.
     
  • Avoid using your stove or oven to keep cooler temperatures in your home.
     
  • Have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day, if you are 65 years old or older, or call and check on someone who is in the age group.
     
  • Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours, if you have to be outdoors. When working in the heat, have plenty of water available, monitor the condition of your co-workers, and have someone do the same for you.

Wake County Animal Control also urged pet owners to use caution with their animals during hot weather with these tips:

  • Leave pets at home and out of parked cars, even if the windows are open. Panting and salivation are outward signs that an animal is is overheating.
     
  • Provide shelter for animals that are outside. A shade from a tree will not keep pets cool enough or keep them from betting sunburned.
     
  • Make sure animals have access to cool, clean water , but never ice water, which can shock the system and cause severe upsets.
     
  • Protect your pets' feet from hot pavement. Dogs' and cats' footpads are sensitive to heat and can easily blister.
     
  • Cut back on exercise during hot weather and limit it to the cooler, early morning or later evening hour.