This latest NC heat wave is blistering – here’s how you can stay cool and stay safe.
This NC heat wave is unreal, and it’s not happening in a vacuum. It’s hot all over.
On July 24, a buoy off the South Coast of Florida recorded water temperatures of 101 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a potentially record breaking temperature.
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These waters usually sit between 73F and 88F (warm but refreshing). The alarming 101 degrees is the same temperature a hot tub should be set to.
Other buoys in the area in the 90s and remained in those temperatures for days, wreaking havoc on the coral reefs.
It’s not only Florida experiencing the heat. A stifling heat wave has been hanging over the American South for weeks, and the National Weather Service forecasts that it will move across the Plains, Midwest, Mid Atlantic, and Northeast.
North Carolina is not immune to this – and f you’ve been outside this summer you’ve felt it. While the increased temperatures are commonly called a heat “wave”, expert Ashley Ward from Duke’s Heat Policy Innovation Hub stated “at 30 days…we’re talking about a new chronic state of being for the heat season.”
Avoiding Heat Injuries in this NC Heat Wave
Heat is one of the most common and hazardous weather events that impacts human health through heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
According to the latest heat report from the NC Department of Health and Human Services, there have been over 1,700 emergency room visits for heat-related illness since May, 2023.
NC Health News reports that the largest demographic that experiences heat injuries is men aged 18-34 who work outside. They also emphasize heat injuries are seven to ten times more prevalent in the rural areas of North Carolina than urban areas.
Extreme heat can also cause indirect injuries. Pavement, metal handrails, and even front door knobs can get so hot they can cause severe burns.
The NCDHHS recommends that North Carolinians increase their fluid intake, reduce outside activity, check in on their neighbors and watch out for signs of heat related illness. These symptoms look like muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and nausea.
Cooling services like the The Crisis Intervention Program, a federally funded program for families in crisis, and Operation Fan Heat Relief which assists older adults and those with disabilities are also available for those who are especially impacted by the heat.
The White House Acts
This week, the White House also announced new measures to improve heat warning systems and add extra heat protections for workers. Federal agencies would tap into money from the Biden Administration’s major climate change legislation, and work with the Labor Department to affirm that workers had “heat-related protections under federal law,” the White House said in a news release.
“Since 2011, more than 400 workers have died due to environmental heat exposure, and thousands more are hospitalized every year,” the White House said.
The Labor Department would also increase enforcement of heat-safety violations.