Summer starts to sizzle as the first heat wave begins Saturday, officials warn against heat-related emergencies

The Grand Strand is expected to sizzle this weekend as the first heat wave of the season will send temperatures soaring, officials with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., and the American Red Cross warned.

Dangerously hot weather and humidity is predicted for coastal and central South Carolina this weekend, with heat indexes possibly varying between 98 to 102 degrees, officials from the weather service said.

The high temperature for the Myrtle Beach area is expected to be 93 degrees on Saturday, but will feel more like 100 degrees, according to Accuweather. And the high temperature for Sunday is predicted to be 94 degrees, but is expected to seem more like 104 degrees with the heat index.

Deadly heat temperatures are also expected to continue through early next week, authorities said.

“The combination of excessive heat and humidity isn’t just uncomfortable – it can lead to a life-threatening situation,” Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for the Palmetto S.C. Region of the American Red Cross, said in a press release. “With some of the warmest weather so far this year forecasted to impact parts of South Carolina, it’s important to take steps to prevent heat-related emergencies, like sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Officials with the American Red Cross warned residents never to leave children or pets alone in a hot car as temperatures can reach dangerous levels even after just a few minutes.

American Red Cross officials also suggest taking regular breaks from being out in the heat and drinking lots of fluids – even if you don’t feel thirsty, and wear light, loose-fitting clothing.

Bringing outdoor animals inside is also recommended by the American Red Cross, as well as checking on family and friends who do not have air conditioning.

Officials with the Georgetown County Emergency Management also advise that residents be on the lookout for warm weather-related medical conditions.

Authorities said heat cramps are caused by excessive loss of salt from the body and are characterized by painful cramps in major muscle groups. Those affected should drink plenty of water and rest in the shade.

Heat exhaustion is also caused by extreme salt loss from the body, and sufferers will have profuse sweating, headache, paleness, weakness, nausea, cool moist skin, and tingling sensation in extremities. Medical attention should be sought if you suffer from this condition, officials said.

Emergency medical services should be called immediately for anyone who suffers a heat stroke, which happens when the body’s heat regulatory mechanism stops working and is characterized by headache, dizziness, delirium, weakness, nausea, red, hot skin and unconsciousness, authorities said.

Contact ELIZABETH TOWNSEND at 626-0217 or on Twitter @TSN_etownsend.