Summer has arrived with a blowtorch. The high temperatures this weekend will likely break many records in the North Sound, some of which go back a century or more.
At this point, Sunday seems like the hottest day, but Saturday and Monday don’t get much cooler. The high temperatures range from the ’80s near Puget Sound to the’ 90s inland, with some locations closer to the Cascade foothills potentially breaking the century mark. It’s never been so hot in history this early in summer.
What to do
This heat wave requires all hands on deck when it comes to heat safety. Heat is a silent killer and is number one in weather-related deaths. The elderly, infants, and people with respiratory or heart disease are most at risk. If you have the elderly, family, friends, and neighbors, check them out. Heat puts additional stress on the human body. Since only around 15 to 20 percent of households have air conditioning, this stress also includes warm, sleepless nights. And don’t forget your pets. They have fur that makes them even warmer and more vulnerable, so include them in your remedies and make sure they have fresh cool water and plenty of it.
Look for cooler, air-conditioned facilities to relieve heat stress for at least two hours. Places like shopping malls, libraries, theaters, and buildings with air conditioning will help. Close your blinds and curtains.
If you are outdoors, seek shade and avoid strenuous activity, especially during the heat of the day. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and dress in light, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing for the summer. A fun option is a shady spot outside with an old-fashioned sprinkler. The water is cool and helps lower body and soil heat. If you feel drowsy, this could be a sign of heat stroke. Heat stroke can be fatal, especially to vulnerable populations. The answer is ice and liquids. Place ice packs (these can be bags filled with ice) behind your neck, and yes, under your armpits.
The waterways in the area are still cold – less than 60 degrees, especially just a few meters below the surface. Always wear a life jacket on our waterways. There have been far too many cold water shock events in the past few weeks alone. Overheating and jumping in can be breathtaking, which is the cause of many drowning deaths, even for good swimmers.
The position of the sun is currently the highest of the year and the ultraviolet radiation is as high as it gets at this time of year. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF and avoid burns as your body cannot cool down well if you get sunburned.
In vehicles, avoid leaving children and pets in the car. The 90-degree heat in a car can rise to over 125 degrees in just 15 minutes, even with the windows open. Beat the heat, check the back seat.
Heat stress is when the human body’s ability to cool down begins to fail. Symptoms of heat stress include excessive sweating, a rapid weak pulse, nausea, muscle cramps, tiredness or weakness, dizziness, and headache. If you or someone is witnessing these symptoms, take action now.
Get out of the sun and move to a cooler place. Drink water and rest. Take a cool bath or shower. Ice packs help, even in bed. If symptoms persist, call 911.
Heat stress also builds up over time if there is no relief. This heat wave appears to be three days long. Heat stress is not only the heat of the day, but also the heat of the night. Low temperatures will have a hard time falling below 60 degrees, so it’s important to find some cooling off in an air-conditioned environment each day. Using ice packs in bed or pillows can also help you fall asleep.
Increased risk of forest fires
This hot dry spell dries out finer fuels like grasses and shrubs in a hurry, making them more prone to burns. Make sure that all fire sources are properly treated. In most counties, there is a ban on incineration. Please check with local authorities and ensure that the vehicle’s tow chains are tight and not dragging on the pavement, which could ignite a fire. All burning materials should remain in vehicles.
When it gets cool
That heatwave appears to end on Tuesday as nature’s air conditioning from the Pacific Ocean spreads cooler ocean air ashore into the North Sound. Tuesday’s high temperatures should fall in the 70s and 80s.
Summer is just beginning. There can be more heat like this weekend later in the season. Stay calm!