Stay safe this summer

Published 9:18 am Friday, July 8, 2011

Thunderstorms over the past few days have helped take the edge off the summer heat that had begun to set in last week. But as is so often the case in Southeastern Virginia during the warm months, the attenuated temperatures came with the price of soaring humidity, making area residents wonder whether things really had improved all that much.

Of course, it’s summertime, and anybody who doesn’t expect to deal with oppressive heat and humidity hasn’t lived here through the season — or perhaps they’ve lived here for so many of them that they’ve become delusional. Still, expecting something isn’t the same thing as actually experiencing it and knowing how to deal with it safely.

That’s why government agencies from around the region are working to make sure that Western Tidewater residents are prepared. There’s a push to ensure that those who qualify for energy assistance receive it and that everyone, regardless of their economic standing, understands the precautions they should take to protect themselves and their loved ones during the hottest days of the year.

Many of those precautions are simple matters of common sense. When it’s hot, for instance, try to find an air-conditioned space inside where you can ride out the worst of the day. Plan outdoor activities like gardening or sports for the cooler parts of the day. If you must be outside, wear sunscreen (and a hat if you’re follicly challenged). Check on your neighbors and family members, especially if they’re elderly or sick, to make sure they’re doing OK.

But the most important thing is to make sure that your own actions do not endanger the lives of others. Already this year, there have been awful headlines about children and animals who literally roasted to death inside closed, parked cars without air-conditioning. Regardless of how briefly you expect to be out of your vehicle, never leave children, pets or even other adults inside a car with the windows up. It takes only a few minutes for that 75-degree interior to heat up to 125 degrees in the blazing sun, and pets and children, especially, are dangerously susceptible to temperatures that high.

Enjoy your summer, but please do it safely.