Temperatures across central North Carolina are expected to reach the upper 90s over the course of the next few days, prompting officials with the National Weather Service to issue heat advisories and warnings throughout the remainder of the week.
Sampson County is among more than a dozen counties in North Carolina placed under the heat advisory Tuesday. Other counties include Warren, Halifax, Franklin, Nash, Edgecombe, Wake, Johnston, Wilson, Harnett, Wayne, Scotland, Hoke and Cumberland.
Hot and humid conditions are anticipated to push the heat index to well over 100 degrees for the next several days, which has lead to excessive heat warnings and advisories. The hot weather, health officials say, is the key time to look for symptoms of heat exhaustion or stroke.
The National Weather Service issued the advisory to be in effect through 8 p.m. Tuesday, however the heat indices for the remainder of the week was expected to be between 103-108 degrees.
According to Erick Herring, operations chief with Sampson County Emergency Management, dehydration from heat exhaustion is the biggest obstacle that many people face during this time of year. The problem, he said, many citizens don’t keep themselves hydrated ahead of the time they spend outside, therefore they often suffer from heat exhaustion or worse, a heat stroke.
“You have to stay hydrated,” Herring admonished. “It’s important to drink plenty of fluids before activities, during activities and after activities.”
Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
• Faintness or dizziness
• Nausea or vomiting
• Heavy sweating often accompanied by cold, clammy skin
• Weak, rapid pulse
• Pale of flushed face
• Muscle cramps
• Weakness or fatigue
If left untreated, Herring said heat exhaustion can lead to a heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition.
According to the National Weather Service, a heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected. Hot temperatures and high humidity create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible.
Many people get into trouble when they participate in activities outside and forget to drink anything before hand, and most especially afterwards. This, Herring said, causes many problems and can lead to heat exhaustion. When making yourself aware of the signs of heat exhaustion, Herring said to look for confusion and disorientation. Another warning sign of heat exhaustion, he added, is the lack of sweating.
“Once you stop sweating, there is a true emergency,” Herring said. “If these signs occur, call 911 immediately. It’s important to get out of the heat and cool off when these signs start happening. Just make sure emergency services is on the way.”
For construction workers or others with an occupation that requires them to be outside, weather and health officials suggest frequent breaks to drink fluids and keep hydrated, as well as taking time to cool off as often as possible. When an option, officials also suggest doing outdoor work early in the day or late in the afternoon when temperatures are lower.
“If someone does need to go outside, the best times of the day are early morning or late afternoon,” Herring said. “From sun up to about 10 a.m., working or playing outside is fine. Someone can still run into trouble when outside in the late afternoon hours, but that time is better than the middle of the afternoon.
Planning activities according to the weather pattern, is also a great idea. Officials encourage everyone to follow the weather forecast and choose to do outdoor activities on the days that offer much cooler temperatures.
In the event of heat exhaustion, Herring said, placing a cool rag on the neck or groin area can assist someone with the cooling off process. Wolfe advised that moving out of the heat and into a shady or air-conditioned place may also aide in helping overcome heat exhaustion.
The safety and care of children and animals is stressed during this time of year. Herring says it is important to remember to not leave anyone, including pets, inside a parked car. When a car is parked in the sun, the temperature in the vehicle can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.