Temperatures will hit more than 100 degrees in much of the country — and the humidity will make it feel even hotter

By Stephanie Emma Pfeffer
July 19, 2019 09:02 AM
heat wave
Credit: Getty

This weekend is going to be a scorcher.

Excessive heat will affect millions of people in the Midwest and Northeast, according to the National Weather Service. More than 130 million Americans are will be under a heat watch, warning or advisory on Friday and Saturday.

The max heat index — how hot your body feels when the temperature is combined with moisture in the air — will reach well over 100 degrees in New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and other cities, according to the NWS. And if that’s not bad enough, air quality will likely be poor due to haze and little air circulation.

So how can you stay safe? Follow these tips from the Red Cross:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking fluids. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration.
  • Never leave children or pets in your car.
  • Reach out to neighbors who do not have air conditioning, or who spend much of their time alone. Elderly people are especially affected by the heat and need to be checked on.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, head indoors to a library, movie theater or mall during the hottest part of the day.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Dark colors absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Stay indoors if possible. Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise. If you must work out, do it with a friend and take frequent breaks.
  • Check on animals frequently, making sure they have cool water.

Above all, be aware of your body. When it gets this hot, people are at risk for heat-related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year a Kansas teen with autism died on a walk on a 102-degree day, and a 63-year-old mail carrier died in her truck as temperatures in Los Angeles reached 117 degrees. In 2017 there were 87 heat-related deaths in the United States, according to the National Safety Council.

People at greatest risk for heat-related illness include children up to age 4 and people over 65, people who are overweight or have existing medical conditions, and those who are socially isolated. Signs of heat exhaustion include cold, clammy skin; a fast, weak pulse; vomiting; weakness and fainting. Signs of heat stroke include body temperature of 103 degrees or higher; hot, red or dry skin; a fast, strong pulse; confusion and loss of consciousness.

And while this heat wave will break by early next week, it won’t be the last. Extreme heat events are becoming more common and severe — and they are lasting longer — due to global climate change.