Wicked Weather Week: Heat and Humidity

Wicked Weather Week: Heat and Humidity

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With this year's "never-ending winter," it's no wonder we have all been waiting for summer to arrive. But we shouldn't forget our summers can bring oppressive heat, humidity and danger.

Hot, hazy and humid -- that's a typical D.C. summer.

July is usually our hottest month and the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River adds to the warmth and high humidity.

Then there's the "urban heat island effect" where road surfaces and concrete buildings in the city help capture the sun's light while tall buildings block cooling winds. It all makes the city into an "island of heat.”

The record July heat of 2011 and 2012 showed us what is possible. Our average, July temperature was 84 degrees, but heat waves drove the mercury to over 100 degrees -- and the heat index to over 110.

As one the leading weather-related killers in the United States, heat causes hundreds of fatalities each year. Safety is key.

In extreme heat and humidity, the body's ability to cool itself is affected.

Heat-related illnesses range from sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. And if you don't protect yourself or pay attention to the signs, you could end up at the hospital or somewhere worse.

With heat cramps, you may feel painful muscle spasms.

Heat exhaustion causes heavy sweating, weakness, nausea and your skin will feel cold and clammy.

Heat stroke can be life-threatening! Get medical attention immediately if you have a high body temperature, hot dry skin, a rapid pulse and are confused.

Your car can become dangerous in the heat as well.

John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic says have an emergency kit.

“Jumper cables, flashlight, a cell phone and plenty of water for your passengers and yourself,” he says.

You should have extra coolant because the car will tend to overheat in the extreme heat, so you have to have the right mixture of water and antifreeze – 50 percent antifreeze and 50 percent water. Also, don’t forget an extra can of oil.

And remember, a hot car can quickly become a death trap for a child or a pet. At just 80 degrees outside, the inside of a car can reach 99 degrees in just 10 minutes and 114 degrees in 30 minutes.

For example, a dashboard or seat in a car can easily heat up to 180 or over 200 degrees, which in turn warms the air inside the car. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly help.

The FOX 5 weather team will alert you of excessive heat days and help you safely enjoy the dog days of D.C.’s summer.

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