Jun. 15—VALDOSTA — With temperatures nearing 100 degrees through the rest of the week, keeping cool has become a health issue, resulting in the opening of an air-conditioned shelter in Valdosta.
The Salvation Army is operating a cooling shelter at 320 Smithland Place through Friday for those who have no other means to keep cool as temperatures rise to 99 degrees by Saturday with little chance of rain, according to a National Weather Service forecast.
The shelter will be open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, June 15, 16, 17, and will have plenty of water and some recreational opportunities to pass the time, according to a Salvation Army statement. Social distancing and masks are suggested; a limited supply of face masks will be available.
"People most at risk for heat-related illness are seniors, infants and people with circulation problems, but staying indoors and drinking plenty of water will help you stay cool and hydrated when temperatures rise," Lowndes County Emergency Management Director Ashley Tye said in a statement.
A big dome of high pressure over the Tennessee Valley is the chief temperature culprit, said Andy Haner, a meteorologist with the weather service's Tallahassee, Fla., office.
"High pressure brings clear skies, which means more sunshine," he said. "That causes the atmosphere to bake." Valdosta's high temperatures have been running about 3.1 degrees above normal for the month of June, Haner said.
The weather service issued several heat advisories for Valdosta this week. The Georgia Department of Public Health urged people to stay inside where it's air conditioned.
Lowndes County, the South Health District, and Ready Georgia offered 10 tips for heat safety:
1. Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
2. Fluids are lost through perspiration, so it's important to stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water, even when you're not thirsty.
3. Stay indoors in air-conditioned spaces as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
4. Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
5. Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Drink two to four cups of water every hour when you are working outside.
6. Check on elderly neighbors and family and friends who do not have air conditioning.
7. Make sure pets have plenty of water and shade, be careful to not over-exercise them and keep them indoors when it's extremely hot.
8. Be familiar with the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
9. Insulate homes by installing weather stripping around doors and windowsills to keep the cool air inside.
10. Closely monitor media for the latest information on excessive heat watches and warnings.
Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.