The heat wave gripping Cumberland County and parts of the Northeast will continue through this week after a heavy dose of heat Monday.
An excessive heat warning was issued for Cumberland County Monday afternoon and evening, with heat index numbers expected to reach up to 110 degrees. The high humidity led to a batch of thunderstorms rolling through the area Monday evening.
But the warm weather won’t end there. The forecast calls for temperatures to reach the mid-90s through Thursday with elevated levels of humidity.
Cumberland County spokeswoman Megan Silverstrim said the county is requesting residents to do what they can to conserve as much energy as possible to avoid potential blackouts.
“The last thing we want to see happen is a widespread power outage,” Silverstrim said. “Anything you can do to reduce the strain on the utilities, that’s a great thing.”
Silverstrim advised to set the thermostat to the highest temperature that is comfortable and to cut down on the use of air conditioning when residents are not at home.
Other tips to keeping cool and conserving electricity include closing drapes and blinds, as well as making sure air conditioner filters are clean to ensure proper operation.
The heatwave is due to a dome of high pressure, meteorologists say, that’s affecting most of the United States and contributing to drought conditions in the Northeast and fueling wildfires in California.
“It’s fair to say that the vast majority of the nation has been experiencing above normal temperatures for the past week,” said David Robinson, New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University.
The dome of high pressure traps hot air and is the basis for the “critical high temperatures” the country has been experiencing the past week, Robinson said, even for being the warmest time of the year.
When will the heat wave break? Not anytime soon, Robinson said. Higher than normal temperatures are still expected in the six to 10 day outlook. Two weeks out, the temperatures are still slated to be high. The good news is there’s a chance, Robinson added, of normal to above normal precipitation.
Burn bans and safety
South Middleton and Monroe townships have issued burn bans for their municipalities until further notice.
South Middleton issued its ban Monday, prohibiting open burning of any kind within the township. Township officials said the township Emergency Management Administrator or any authorized township official has the authority to order the extinguishment of any fire in violation of the order.
Violations of the order are deemed a summary offense, according to the township’s news release, and punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.
In addition to concerns about brush fires, there is also concern for residents’ safety.
“We’re urging folks who have elderly neighbors or elderly family members to check in on them, especially if they don’t have air conditioning,” Silverstrim said. “They don’t always realize the heat is effecting them before it’s too late.
“Check up on those folks,” she added. “Be that good community member and make sure they are doing OK.”
Cumberland County Aging & Community Services issued a warning Monday that the extended high heat expected for the remainder of this week can cause severe illness and even death. Older adults, the very young, and those with medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and chronic heart and lung disease are the most vulnerable and should take extra precautions.
The agency offers these tips for staying healthy during a heat wave:
Avoid long periods in the sun;
Avoid strenuous activities;
Drink plenty of fluid, but avoid alcohol and caffiene;
Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose clothing;
Call for help if you need it.
People who have access to at least three hours of air conditioning a day are less likely to suffer from heat-related illness. If you do not have air conditioning, plan to spend part of the afternoon hours at a nearby air-conditioned restaurant, library, shopping mall, movie theater or senior center.
Also, watch for signs of heat overexposure, such as:
Dehydration: Extreme water loss reduces the body’s ability to cool down and can lead to weakness, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, confusion and passing out.
Heat cramps: Muscle cramps, usually in the stomach or the legs, are the result of over-exercising in the heat and losing too much water and salt from heavy sweating.
Heat exhaustion: Marked by either heavy sweating or no sweating, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, paleness, cold or clammy skin, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting; body temperature may be normal.
Heat stroke: A life-threatening emergency (also known as sun stroke) that involves a body temperature of or above 103 degrees; red, hot and dry skin; a fast pulse; headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, confusion, and passing out.