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Heat wave expected for Pa. Here’s what to do.

  • Rachel McDevitt

Central Pennsylvania is expected to experience a heat wave through Thursday, along with much of the East Coast.

The National Weather Service forecasts Central Pa. could feel hotter than 100 degrees with the combination of heat and humidity.

Harrisburg, York, and Reading are shifting garbage collection schedules earlier in the morning, to avoid having sanitation workers out during peak temperatures.

To stay cool, the World Health Organization recommends drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol, caffeine and sugar, and refraining from strenuous activity.

Wearing lightweight clothing and staying in the shade can also help.

If people do not have air conditioning at home, they can seek relief at community centers, libraries and shopping malls. Cooling centers can be found at pa211.org.

The WHO says people without air conditioning can open windows at night, when it is cooler, then close windows and curtains during the day. Do not run heat-generating appliances during the day, if possible.

High temperatures put older adults, children and people with chronic health conditions at greater risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Signs of heat stroke include a body temperature above 103 degrees; red, hot and dry skin with no sweat; a rapid, strong pulse; and dizziness, confusion or unconsciousness. If you suspect heat stroke, get the person to a hospital immediately.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weakness, a rapid pulse, dizziness, headache, and nausea. If you suspect heat exhaustion, move to a cooler location, drink water, and remove a layer of clothes. If symptoms last longer than an hour, seek medical care.

To prepare your home for heat waves, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends adding insulation, weather-stripping doors and windows, using window reflectors to direct heat back outside, and installing window air conditioners with insulation around them.

Those unable to afford cooling costs, weatherization or energy-related home repairs can contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for help.

Climate change is making heat waves more frequent and intense.

Weather data shows the number of hot days and warm nights in Pennsylvania have been going up since the 1970s.

The Environmental Protection Agency says heat waves are happening more often than they used to, rising from an average of two per year during the 1960s to six per year during the 2010s and 2020s.

World Weather Attribution, a group that quantifies how climate change influences the intensity and likelihood of an extreme weather event, says the record-breaking heat waves in July 2023 that affected Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas would have been virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.

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