by: John Ahrens Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - With meteorologists eying a spike in temperatures in the Charlotte area late this week, American Red Cross volunteers are getting ready and waiting for emergency managers to tell them when to open cooling centers around Charlotte.
The heat wave headed to Charlotte will bring temperatures that have not been seen in nearly five years. Volunteers are worried that people are not taking the triple-digit threat seriously.
At a nearby basketball court, Charlie and Norris Frederick said they knew the best time to be on the court was Wednesday.
“It’s just a chance to get out before it gets boiling hot,” Charlie Frederick said.
“If it was 100 (degrees), you put a thermometer on the court, it was 120,” Norris Frederick said.
But Red Cross officials warn that no matter what court a person is on, heat exhaustion can take over in less than 30 minutes.
Experts said many people find themselves unprepared for the spike in the heat.
“I’ve seen people running outside between 1 and 3 p.m., when it’s 100 degrees, and they don’t have water in their hand,” said the Red Cross’ Kate Meier.
Meier said the Red Cross opened cooling stations a record-setting eight times last year, giving hundreds of people water, sports drinks and snacks. She said many people do not realize how quickly their bodies lose water and nutrients in extreme heat.
“People tell me, ‘I drink water all day.’ I say, ‘Well, how much?’ … ‘Three to four glasses,’” Meier said.
People are supposed to be drinking 64 ounces of water, or roughly four bottles, per day. If the temperature gets up to 90 degrees and a person spends two hours outside, he will have lost the equivalent of one bottle of water.
Charlotte is facing three consecutive days at 100 degrees.
The best thing people can do to combat the heat is stay indoors in the air conditioning.
For people who must be outside, wearing light-colored clothing and drinking plenty of water will help.
For more information on how to stay cool and to learn about signs of heat exhaustion, click here.
Easy tips for staying safe during hot summer days:
• Never leave a child or pet in a parked car – even for a few minutes. The inside temperature of a car can quickly reach 120 degrees.
• Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day – even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol that dehydrate the body.
• Dress for the heat. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing in layers. Avoid dark colors that absorb the sun’s rays.
• If you must work outdoors, take frequent breaks to hydrate and cool yourself. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
• Protect your self from sun exposure even on cloudy or hazy days. In addition to dressing for heat, apply a broad-spectrum (protection against both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen and reapply as indicated, wear eye protection (wraparound sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV ray protection) and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
• Be a good neighbor. Check in on the elderly, young children and pets to make sure they are not suffering from the heat.
Credit: American Red Cross
Signs and symtoms of heat-related illnesses:
Severe, sometimes disabling, cramps that typically begin suddenly in the hands, calves, or feet
Hard, tense muscles
- Excessive thirst
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Confusion or anxiety
- Drenching sweats, often accompanied by cold, clammy skin.
- Slowed or weakened heartbeat.
- Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention but is not usually life-threatening.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Hot, flushed, dry skin
- Rapid heart rate
- Decreased sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased urination
- Increased body temperature (104 to 106 degrees)
- Confusion, delirium, or loss of consciousness
- Heat stroke can occur suddenly, without any symptoms of heat exhaustion. If a person is experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, GET MEDICAL CARE IMMEDIATELY. Any delay could be fatal.
Seek emergency medical care for anyone who has been in the heat and who has the following symptoms:
- Confusion, anxiety, or loss of consciousness
- Very rapid or dramatically slowed heartbeat
- Rapid rise in body temperature that reaches 104 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit
- Either drenching sweats accompanied by cold, clammy skin (which may indicate heat exhaustion); or a marked decrease in sweating accompanied by hot, flushed, dry skin (which may indicate heat stroke)
- Any other heat-related symptom that is not alleviated by moving to a shady or air-conditioned area and administering fluids and salts