HAMPTON -- With temperatures expected to exceed 100 degrees over the next couple of days, residents throughout Hampton Roads are being urged to take precautions and protect themselves from the extreme heat.
According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, there were five heat-related deaths in Virginia last year; in 2012 there were 21.
The Hampton Health District says one of the most important measure people should take is to schedule or reschedule activities and outdoor work during the coolest parts of the day. In the summer, sunlight exposure is at its peak between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Here are some additional steps you can take to protect yourself against heat-related illnesses...
Keep cool in an air-conditioned area. Take a cool shower or a bath. Consider a trip to the mall or a local library or visit a friend with air conditioning. Spending at least two hours per day in air conditioning significantly reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses. When temperatures reach the upper 90s or above, a fan may not prevent heat-related illness.
Drink plenty of fluids. Health officials recommend drinking two to four glasses of cool fluids every hour. To replace salt and minerals lost from sweating, drink fruit juice or a sports beverage during exercise or when you have to work outside. However, talk to your doctor first if you’re on a fluid-restricted diet or medications, or on a low-salt diet.
Avoid sunburns and wear light clothing. Sunburn limits your body’s ability to keep itself cool and causes loss of body fluids. Use sunscreen with a high SPF. Lighter-weight clothing that is loose fitting and light colored is more comfortable during extreme temperatures. Use a hat to keep the head cool.
Give your body a break. The heat wave can be stressful on your body. Limit physical activity until your body adjusts to the heat.
Never leave children or pets in cars. Temperatures inside a car can reach more than 150 degrees quickly, resulting in heat stroke and death.