Volunteers participating in projects in the area like the annual Salkehatchie Summer Service camps are taking extra steps this week to beat the rising and somewhat above average heat.
Conway camp director from Trinity United Methodist Church Jeff Davis said volunteers performing roofing jobs and other outdoor repairs as part of the week-long service project are using cold packs and capitalizing on any nearby shade for frequent cool downs.
As the first day of summer approaches (June 21), coastal areas are already feeling the heat with 10-day forecasts revealing that temperatures will remain in the high 90s with only a few scattered showers. While 90-plus temperatures with triple-digit heat indexes are not unheard of at this time of year, averages tend to run in the mid- to high 80s.
Davis said the Conway camp’s 120 volunteers, ages 14 and up, are working to repair seven homes in the area in desperate need of new roofing, siding, windows, paint, flooring and additional maintenance. Selected through a review process headed by Davis, who has directed the camp for the last 15 years, most are mobile homes with nothing more than a window air conditioning unit, if that. Davis said the homeowners are suffering from the heat as well and will benefit from the renovations.
The excessive heat is affecting the progress of summer programs like the Salkehatchie project with volunteers taking more frequent breaks to avoid the dangers of heat stroke and dehydration.
“It’s just slowing us down,” Davis said. “We have to make sure everyone drinks more liquids and we run them (workers) off the roof and let them take a break. We’ve had just a few who almost got too hot.”
Area programs who serve the homeless have also geared up to help prevent heat-related incidents. Brunswick County Streetreach is reporting an increase in daily calls and over the last two weeks has assisted more than 20 people.
That assistance included helping three families where adults and children were sleeping in vehicles to find appropriate shelter. In addition to transporting individuals to shelters in other counties and renting motels and campers while funds last, the Rev. Donna Phelps, who directs the program with husband Garry Phelps, said in an email release that the nonprofit has purchased an air conditioner for an elderly resident and distributed 10 box fans.
The Brunswick program is also providing cases of bottled water, gatorade and even meals to homeless encampments. Beds at the shelter during this extreme heat, however, are at a premium and a recorded message at the shelter Tuesday said there were no more beds available. They, like other area shelters, are doing what they can for as many as they can with what resources they have.
“We want to do all we possibly can to help alleviate their pain and suffering, and to prevent anyone from heat strokes,” Garry Phelps said in the release, noting that homeless individuals are more at risk of the adverse effects of high summer temperatures due to their vulnerability to disease and even death.
Kathy Jenkins, director of New Directions in Horry County, which has oversight of Street Reach Ministries and two other shelters, said they have not seen any significant increase in shelter requests due to the heat as of yet. Even in the shelter, old HVAC systems are running at less than capacity and are receiving a much-needed upgrade this week.
“With 130 people inside, it’s definitely hot,” she said.
While the Myrtle Beach shelter is near capacity, Jenkins said no one would be turned away who needs emergency help. However, there are no plans to provide supplies to individuals living in the surrounding woods.
“We don’t encourage people to live in the woods so we don’t do things to encourage that,” she said. “We want them to come into the shelter.”
Excessively hot temperatures also bring to light the need to ensure children and animals are not left unattended in hot vehicles since temperatures inside can rapidly reach 120 degrees. Since pets feel the heat more than humans do, officials advise keeping them indoors and hydrated as much as possible. The heat also easily affects small children and the elderly. Individuals remaining in excessive heat for too long can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat stroke, heat exhaustion and even death. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol and caffeine will help with hydration.
A heat advisory was issued from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday by the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C. for inland Brunswick, N.C., Horry and Georgetown counties.
The string of 90-plus degree days (with triple-digit heat indexes) this week is normal for the area, according to Michael Caropolo with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
“In the summertime in the Southeast, it does get this hot regularly,” Caropolo said. “It’s not unusual to have several 90 to 100 degree days in a row.”
Climate records from the National Weather Service show that the area hit a record high of 98 on June 15, 2010. Monday’s high was 95.
South Carolina had a stretch of 90 degree days in June 2012, but has been much cooler over the last two years, Caropolo said. This week’s high temperatures are common in the south, however.
“A lot of people – especially tourists – aren’t accustomed to this heat, so they might think it’s much hotter than usual during this time of year,” Caropolo said.
The forecast temperature for Thursday is a high of 95 with a chance of thunderstorms. The high forecast for Friday is 93.
The weekend will still bring temperatures in the 90s, with Saturday’s high 91 and Sunday’s high 96.
Tips to beat the heat
▪ Avoid extreme temperature changes.
▪ Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing to avoid absorbing the sun’s rays.
▪ Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during hottest part of the day.
▪ Postpone outdoor games and activities.
▪ Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat outdoors and take frequent breaks.
▪ Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning.
▪ Check on animals frequently and make sure they have plenty of cool water.
▪ No air conditioning? Choose places to go to for relief (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
Provided by the American Red Cross.
Agencies that can help
What | Brunswick County Streetreach
Where | Shallotte, N.C.
Contact | 910-842-2711
What | Street Reach Ministries
Where | 1005 Osceola St., Myrtle Beach
Contact | 843-232-7154