Know the signs of heat illnesses and how to handle them
Dr. Jonathan Wenk, emergency room physician at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, talks with WTOP's Neal Augenstein. (runs 3:30)
WASHINGTON - There's no doubt that scorching weather has arrived. Forecasters have already issued a heat advisory from noon to 10 p.m. Thursday.
Summer technically started at 7:09 p.m. Wednesday, as the summer solstice marked the longest day of the year.
But the sweltering season was well underway Wednesday, posing dangerous conditions and requiring people to take precautions.
The National Weather Service put a heat advisory in effect from noon to 10 p.m. Wednesday. Temperatures hit the mid- to upper 90s, and felt like 100 to 105 degrees. The forecast calls for another scorcher on Thursday. Another heat advisory goes into effect from noon to 10 p.m. Thursday.
The heat prompted D.C. to activate a Hyperthermia Alert at 10 a.m. Wednesday, urging people to stay inside. People without access to a cool spot can call 311 to find out where the District's Cooling Centers will be located.
ABC7 Meteorologist Brian van de Graaff recommends taking advantage of all the free air-conditioned museums in D.C. for those looking for activities with the family.
Those who are unable to regulate their body's temperature in conditions around 105 degrees or greater can suffer from confusion, delirium, seizures, can lapse into a coma or even die, says Shady Grove Adventist Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Jonathan Wenk.
The signs of heat-related illness vary, Wenk says. They include nausea, headache, painful involuntary cramps, acting confused or if the skin is cool and dry to the touch instead of sweaty.
"Those are some of the serious signs," he says, and an indication that it's necessary to call 911.
After summoning help, try to move the person into a cooler environment indoors or into the shade. Have the person drink something if he is awake, or pour cool water on the person or his clothing, Wenk says.
Children are especially vulnerable in this weather, he says, since they create more heat with body activity and don't sweat as much as adults.
"If they're having fun playing outside, children are not inclined to take a break or stop and get a drink of water," says Wenk.
The air quality is Code Orange, which means sensitive groups, such as children, older people and those with respiratory and heart conditions should limit outdoor activities because of harmful pollution levels. The Metropolitan Council of Government's Air Quality Action Guide recommends people refuel their vehicles in the evening, try not to drive alone and put off lawn care or using gas or electric grills.
Wenk recommends those who have to work outside "drink plenty of cool liquids to stay hydrated."
Local utilities are encouraging customers to conserve energy during the heat wave by delaying use of heat-generating appliances until after 9 p.m. This includes ovens, dishwashers and dryers. Customers are also encouraged to turn off all non- essential appliances and electronics and to keep their curtains and blinds closed.
When operating ceiling fans, turn them on with the blades rotating counter- clockwise. Use a microwave or an outdoor grill instead of the toaster oven or oven.
Here are some other reminders to help stay cool:
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
- Wear a hat to shield yourself from the sun
- Use sunscreen
- Drink lots of water. Remember that caffeinated beverages can increase the rate of water loss in your body, increasing your risk of heat exhaustion or stroke
- Hang out in the air conditioning or shade
- Don't leave children or pets in the car
Local accommodations for cooling off:
Select District pools will remain open until 8:30 p.m. through Friday. They are:
- Banneker Recreation Center Pool, Ward 1
- Jelleff Recreation Center Pool, Ward 2
- Harry Thomas Sr. Pool, Ward 5
- Rosedale Pool, Ward 6
- Benning Park Pool, Ward 7
- Anacostia Pool, Ward 8
Pool hours are extended at the Laurel Municipal Pool and the Greenview Drive Pool, which will open at 11 a.m. through Thursday.
- The Laurel Armory Anderson-Murphy Community Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Note: For a complete list of cooling centers and hours, click here.
- Girard Street Park, 15th and Girard Street, NW
- Fort Davis Recreation Center, 1400 41st Street, SE
- Palisades Recreation Center, 5200 Sherrier Place, NW
- Petworth Recreation Center, 801 Taylor Street, NW
- Lafayette Recreation Center, 5900 33rd Street, NW
- Riggs La Salle Recreation Center, 501 Riggs Road, NE
- Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert Street, NW
- Arboretum Recreation Center, 2412 Rand Place, NE
- Benning Stoddert Recreation Center, 100 Stoddert Place, SE
- Joseph Cole Recreation Center, 1299 Neal Street, NE
Forecasters anticipate summer's first heat wave to break by the weekend.
- Signs of heat-related illnesses
- Scorcher possible for Northeast's first summer day
- Tips to conserve energy
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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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