With temperatures in the 90s this week, Montgomery County has a heat alert in effect through Friday night and is encouraging residents to stay inside or cool off in the water.
The National Weather Service has forecast a high near 97 on Friday, with a heat index — what the temperature feels like to the human body — up to 106.
“Folks really do need to stay safe and take it easy,” said Dr. Raymond Crowel, director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. “This is not a day to be doing a whole lot of exertion. This is not a week to be doing that.
“It sounds like from the forecast, we’re going to get some relief in the next few days, so people will have to hold on until the weather breaks a little bit.”
The National Weather Service expects the high temperature to be around 88 on Saturday, then drop to 81 on Sunday, 82 on Monday and 80 on Tuesday.
On Thursday, the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security extended a heat emergency alert through 8 p.m. on Friday. A heat emergency alert is declared when temperatures or the heat index approach 105 for at least two days.
A sign on the Billy Goat Trail says hiking there is not recommended between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. because of the extreme heat.
The county said in a press release that county facilities, such as libraries, swimming pools and recreation and senior centers, are open for the public to stay cool. Masks are required inside county facilities.
Ride On Buses are also available to anyone seeking shelter from the heat, during service hours. The buses are available for free. There will be free bottles of water on buses.
The county urged people to take precautions to protect themselves and their pets from heat exhaustion and heat stroke, a life-threatening form of hyperthermia.
Hyperthermia is a condition in which the body’s temperature is abnormally high and the body’s self-regulation system can’t handle the heat. Excessive exposure to heat can cause confusion, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, or rapid breathing.
Extreme heat can also lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion.
During a heat wave, people are urged to drink plenty of fluids, such as water and juice, and avoid alcohol, caffeine or sugary drinks, which can cause dehydration.
The county urged residents to check on family members, friends, neighbors and older people during times of extreme heat.
People without shelter can be at risk when there is extreme heat.
Amanda Harris, chief of services to end and prevent homelessness within the Department of Health and Human Services, said Progress Place in downtown Silver Spring is open for extended hours for people to cool down. Progress Place is a center that gives adults experiencing homelessness access to basic needs, food, laundry and showers.
“Historically, you know, we would shut down our shelters in the warm months,” Harris said. “So, a lot of people are just stuck outside. We … have year-round shelter and our shelters are open 24/7. So, on really hot days, we strongly encourage people to stay inside.”
Tips to stay cool:
- Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and fruit juice, to prevent dehydration. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and overly sweetened beverages.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes.
- Avoid direct sunlight by staying in the shade and wear sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Stay in air-conditioned areas when possible. If your home is not air-conditioned, consider a visit to county facilities or a shopping center during regular business hours, or visit family or friends who have air conditioning.
- Electric fans may provide comfort, but will not prevent heat-related illnesses on very hot days.
- Always check your back seat for children, pets, and vulnerable adults before exiting your vehicle. Never leave children, adults, and pets alone inside a vehicle on a warm day, even with the window cracked. Temperatures inside vehicles can become dangerous quickly.
- Take it easy when outdoors. Athletes and those who work outdoors should take short breaks in a shady, cool area when feeling fatigued. Schedule physical activity during the morning or evening, when it is cooler.
- Take pets for walk in the morning or evening when it is cooler. If the sidewalk is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for their paws.
- Check on friends, family, and neighbors for signs of heat-related illness.
Source: Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Staff writer Steve Bohnel contributed to this story.