Holiday Weekend Expected To Be a Scorcher
WHEELING — Summer just arrived, and already it’s bringing the heat.
The Ohio Valley has seen temperatures hovering near the 90-degree mark this week, and the holiday weekend promises to offer no relief from the summer sun. Those planning to take part in outdoor activities this Independence Day weekend are encouraged to play it safe if they intend to be exposed to the sun and the heat for an extended period of time.
According to the forecast from the National Weather Service, the area is expected to see high temperatures that fall at least in the upper 80s every day through the next two weeks, with Friday’s thermometer expected to reach the local record of 91 degrees in Wheeling for that date.
Each day this weekend is expected to bring temperatures above the 90 degree mark, but although hot weather promises to linger in the valley for several days, weather experts say it takes more for a stretch of high temperatures to be considered a dangerous heat wave.
“We’re not looking at anything too crazy with temperatures right around the 90 degrees,” said Michael Brown, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Pittsburgh. “Fortunately, the humidity isn’t going to be overly high. The heat index isn’t going to be extreme, but the temperatures is going to be in the lower 90s on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
Dangers with high temperatures come when they are coupled with high humidity, Brown explained, noting that the heat index measures how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. The NWS will issue alerts if the heat index is predicted to reach dangerous levels at least two days in a row. A heat wave is generally considered to be a prolonged period of excessive heat with temperatures reaching 10 degrees or more above the area’s average, combined with excessive humidity.
Although the current local forecast doesn’t meet the criteria to be considered a bout with excessive heat, Brown said anyone venturing outside this holiday weekend should still take precautions.
“People just need to stay hydrated and stay in the shade,” he said. “There’s very little chance of rain, so a lot of people will be planning to spend time outside.”
Officials from the Wheeling-Ohio County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency and the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency said local cooling shelters are established in the event of extreme heat events. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and recommended social distancing are expected to limit the number of people shelters can accommodate.
Weather forecasts can change quickly, and heat advisories, excessive heat watches or excessive heat warnings could be issued if weather factors turn things up just a notch, officials noted.
According to the National Weather Service, everyone should follow these tips when dealing with excessive heat:
* Slow down: reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
* Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
* Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads. If you pack food, put it in a cooler or carry an ice pack. Don’t leave it sitting in the sun. Meats and dairy products can spoil quickly in hot weather.
* Drink plenty of water (not very cold), non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you on a fluid restrictive diet or have a problem with fluid retention, consult a physician before increasing consumption of fluids.
* Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries.
* Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air.
* Do not direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90 degrees. The dry blowing air will dehydrate you faster, endangering your health.
* Minimize direct exposure to the sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.
* Take a cool bath or shower.
* Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
* Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat. Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. Keep your children, disabled adults and pets safe during tumultuous heat waves.
* Don’t leave valuable electronic equipment, such as cell phones and GPS units, sitting in hot cars.
* Make sure rooms are well vented if you are using volatile chemicals.