Drink water, drink some more water and stay inside.
That’s what officials are advising Central Virginians to do during this weekend’s heat wave. The expected triple-digit temperatures and high humidity levels can cause a range of illnesses for people and pets, but local organizations and agencies are offering tips on how to stay safe.
The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and an excessive heat advisory for Sunday. Localities in the area have opened cooling centers for the community that will be available this weekend.
According to Accuweather, Charlottesville hit 98 degrees on Friday and is projected to reach 100 on Saturday and 98 on Sunday, and thunderstorms are in the forecast. Relief is down the road, though: on Tuesday, the high is only expected to be 78 degrees.
Local fire departments have seen higher-than-normal calls for service due to overheated motors, including an incident Friday evening in which an elevator motor in a Downtown Mall building overheated and caused a brief evacuation. There were no injuries, according to Battalion Chief Joe Phillips.
“Extreme heat really impacts some of our most vulnerable populations — older adults and young children,” said Kathryn Goodman, spokeswoman for the Thomas Jefferson Health District. “It is important that we look out for one another in extreme heat.”
She recommends having a buddy system for checking in on one another.
Goodman also said several heat-related health conditions can cause serious health problems and that people should watch out for dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The body cools itself by sweating, Goodman said, but sometimes, that isn’t enough.
“It is very important that people stay hydrated and seek cool temperature environments until the heat subsides,” she said.
In addition to friends and neighbors, don’t forget about the pets.
Dr. K. Douglass Hopkins, a veterinarian who works at Augusta Valley Animal Hospital in Staunton, has seen many pets taken to the emergency room for heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses.
“Dogs absolutely get heat stroke and it can be fatal,” she said.
If a dog shows symptoms — panting, vomiting or wobbling — of heat stroke, Hopkins said owners should wet them down, put them in front of a fan and then take them to a vet.
To prevent an emergency, Hopkins said owners should keep pets in the air conditioning and where they are comfortable themselves, and not to leave them in a car. Pets also should have plenty of fresh, cool water.
Outside, she said to keep pets off the hot pavement.
“If you wouldn’t walk on the pavement barefoot, don’t have your pets do so,” she said.
Hopkins said older, obese and short-faced dogs, such as pugs, are more susceptible to issues during extreme heat. For those dogs, it’s already harder for them to breathe, and the heat will exacerbate those issues.
Hopkins also advised the owners of highly active dogs to take care with exercise.
“They don’t know when to stop, and they are running in a fur coat,” she said.
Dominion Energy said it’s expecting to continue providing reliable service to its customers as the temperature rises.
“The health and safety of our customers and employees is our top priority, especially during heat waves,” Dominion spokeswoman Samantha Moore said. “We spend lots of time and resources throughout the year to inspect, maintain, and upgrade our electrical system.”
To conserve energy, Dominion recommends closing the blinds and adjusting the thermostat up. The EPA recommends keeping the thermostat set at 78 degrees.
However, some businesses are changing their plans due to the heat. Great Harvest Bread Co. in Charlottesville, for example, announced Friday that it will not be baking Monday to conserve energy. The bakery also is limiting its cafe hours to 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday.