Drink water, keep cool and brace for serious heat

alucas@dailypress.com

"Bring water, bring umbrellas, stay out of the sun."

That's Logan Smith's advice for beach-goers as temperatures hit the high 90s this week. Smith, a six-year Buckroe Beach lifeguard, sees people pass out from heat exhaustion every year. Although he knows how to spot the symptoms in a sunbather, it can be difficult on crowded days when umbrellas seem to cover every inch of sand.

Thinking about spreading your towel underneath the beach's pier instead? Expect it to be packed this week with beach-goers looking to avoid the sun and high temperatures, he said.

Accuweather predicts that temperatures Wednesday will reach a high of 97 degrees, with a heat index as high as 111 degrees. There is a 25 percent chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Thursday, the high temperature will drop by a degree, but the heat index goes up to 112.

Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be the hottest days of the week. Temperatures will slowly cool down as the week winds down, but the heat index is still predicted to be above 100 degrees. By Saturday, forecasters expect temperatures to climb only to 88 degrees.

Although predictions vary slightly, multiple weather services predict heat indexes above 100 degrees Wednesday and Thursday.

It won't be just lifeguards and sunbathers trying to beat the heat. Laborers around the Peninsula will continue to work through the high temperatures while taking precautions against heatstroke and dehydration.

Newport News Shipbuilding will not decide until early Wednesday morning to institute its liberal leave policy. The policy affects employees who work in areas without temporary cooling sources.

"We use the following guidelines for determining if liberal leave is appropriate: For the month of June, forecasted heat indices in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. For the months of July and August, forecasted heat indices in excess of 105 degrees Fahrenheit," shipyard spokeswoman Christie Miller said in an email.

Miller said the shipyard also provides ice, water, fans, air amplifiers and cooling apparel for employees in high-heat areas.

As temperatures seem to hit the roof, a roof's temperature climbs even higher. According to Alan Woodall from Newport News-based R.A. Woodall & Son Contracting, roofs are about 130 degrees when it is 100 degrees outside and can be even hotter when dealing with black shingles.

For a roofing contractor, this means going to work early and clocking out before 2 p.m. — right before the hottest time of the day. Although the company tries to schedule around extreme heat, it can be difficult to avoid in the summer. Workers are told to take water breaks and to stop if they feel too hot.

"We start early in the morning, get as much done as we can," Woodall said.

Hampton spokesman Fred Gaskins encourages people seeking refuge from the heat to stop by Hampton's public libraries and community buildings for air conditioning and water. Newport News libraries, senior centers and recreation centers are air-conditioned and welcome to all visitors, spokeswoman Kim Lee said. She also recommends citizens check on elderly family members or neighbors.

With this hot weather, remember to never leave children or animals in vehicles, which can heat up quickly even with the windows cracked. Temperatures inside cars can rise at a rate of about 20 degrees every three minutes, according to a news release from AAA Tidewater Virginia. A car's interior temperature can go from 78 degrees to 125 degrees in six to eight minutes.

AAA recommends calling the police if you see a child alone in a vehicle and always checking the front and back windows of your vehicle to make sure that a child or animal is not left behind.

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