WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

How to beat excessive heat

Posted July 10, 2011 5:05 p.m. EDT
Updated July 10, 2011 5:33 p.m. EDT

Heat is going to be the main weather story around here for the next few days. We can expect temperatures to climb into the mid to upper 90s on Monday and near or over 100 degrees on Tuesday. It’s not going to be just hot, it's also going to be very humid, especially Tuesday and Wednesday. When you factor in the humidity, it is going to feel anywhere from 100 to 110 degrees until late Wednesday.

In light of these extreme temperatures, I thought this was a perfect time to break down how the National Weather Service warns for the heat and how to stay safe when it gets this hot!

Most likely the National Weather Service here in Raleigh will issue either a Heat Advisory or an Excessive Heat Warning over the next few days. Of course we will be keeping you up-to-date during the weather segment on the newscast and on WRAL.com with the latest warnings.

A Heat Advisory means that the temperature outside will feel between 105 and 110 degrees for 3 or more hours during the day. Now, Tuesday is expected to be the hottest day this week with highs at or over 100 degrees. This means that when you factor in the humidity it’s going to feel over 110 degrees for 3 or more hours. If that happens, most likely we will see an Excessive Heat Warning. The biggest difference in the two is simply how hot it feels outside.

Anyone working outdoors or spending an extended amount of time outside should be very careful during this high heat. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to properly cool themselves. Our bodies normally cool when we sweat. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. In these cases, our body temperature rises very quickly. Very high body temperatures can damage our brains and other vital organs. When the humidity is high, like it’s going to be over the next few days, sweat will not evaporate as quickly. Our body temperatures can’t cool down quickly. This is when the danger is highest.

There are steps you can take to prevent or at least limit heat stress. First is to recognize there is a problem. Warning signs for heat stroke include a body temperature at or over 103 degrees, rapid, strong pulse, red and dry skin, headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness. If you notice these warning signs in yourself or others call 911 immediately. Try to get to a shady area, take a cold shower or spray yourself or others with the garden hose. Do not drink fluids or give them to someone having a heat stroke. Medical personal will be able to help you through this situation.

Heat cramps are another major problem when it gets this hot. If you already have an underlying medical condition, seek help immediately. If not, then stop all activity and sit in a cool place quietly. Drink clear juice or a sports beverage. Don’t return to any physical activity unless you are told to by a medical professional. If your cramps don’t ease in one hour, seek medical help.

To avoid these heat-related heath problems over the next few days, try to limit outdoor activity, stay cool indoors if you can, wear lightweight, loose fitting clothes and drink plenty of fluids. Taking care of yourself and others will be key in avoiding the downfall of heat-related illnesses. Please stay safe and be careful.