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Scorching heat is no laughing matter

on Tuesday, 04 June 2019. Posted in Editorials, Opinions

Boy, is it hot out there.

The Pee Dee region is in the midst of a serious heat wave. Chances are you’ve more than had your fill of the “It’s so hot outside … .” one-liners. And to be truthful, this heat really is no laughing matter.

It is dangerously hot. Not just here in South Carolina, but all across the Southeastern U.S. One weatherman even coined the ominous-sounding phrase “Death Ridge” in reference to the record-breaking temperatures on what seems to be a daily basis.

Nearly two weeks with temperatures hovering around 100 and with the only relief being a brief thunderstorm on Friday afternoon. Heat indexes have topped 104 on several days. Thermometers register in the low 90s and it feels as if a cold front has moved in.

Weather reports indicated on Monday that there appeared to be a another chance of rain this weekend. That would be grand.

Make no mistake, this absurdly hot weather can take a toll on your body and health if you’re not careful. Heat results in hundreds of fatalities each year and even more cases of heat-related illnesses, according to the National Weather Service.

Children, the elderly, and pets are the most at risk when the mercury rises this time of year, especially when they are left in vehicles unattended. The inside of a car can heat up to almost 200 degrees on a summer day.

For most, you wouldn’t even think of leaving a loved one — human, canine, feline or otherwise — in a car during this kind of weather. Yet research shows that about 37 children die each year as a result of being left in unattended vehicles. Already this year, there have been 16 child vehicular heatstroke deaths nationwide.

Never leave a child, elderly individual or animal in an unattended vehicle, even for a minute or two. And if you spot a child or pet in an unattended vehicle on a hot day, call 911.

But it’s not just in vehicles you have to worry about the heat. As the weekend approaches, more people will be spending time outside, whether enjoying time at the pool or doing chores in the yard, such as mowing the grass. It’s important to take breaks indoors when you can and to remain hydrated, which means drinking water rather than sugary and caffeinated beverages or alcohol.

If you don’t have air conditioning or your AC unit breaks — not unusual when it’s working harder in extreme heat — find some place where it’s cool – a neighbor’s home, the library, a community center – where you can get out of the heat until your unit can be fixed. If worse comes to worse, take a drive in your vehicle and turn on the AC.

As of last Friday, Florence County did not have any officially designated cooling stations.

And please, don’t forget to check on elderly neighbors and family members who are most susceptible to heat-related illness and deaths, especially those who live alone.

Take scorching temperatures seriously, folks. Look out for one another and be safe.

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