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Forecast temperatures over the next few days are in the high 90s with the heat index over 100 degrees. With a pending heat and humidity bomb heading toward Central Virginia, Richmond-area responders want to remind you of safe steps to keep in mind.

It doesn’t take long for someone to experience heat-related illness when the conditions play out like they are expected to Wednesday and through the weekend.

Chad Greedan, the Director of Field Operations for Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA), said it’s important to know the signs of heat illness.

“First sign is heat cramps, cramping in the muscles, joints, abdomen. Progressing to heat exhaustion. People begin to sweat profusely, they get cold skin, they get pale, they get dizzy, they get nauseous, a feeling of weakness,” Greedan said. “Then heat stroke, they get super red, super hot skin, and they stop sweating.”

RAA anticipates the number of heat-related emergency calls will increase in the coming days.

Greedan said they also have to keep a close eye on their crews, who do strenuous work outdoors and typically wait for calls inside the ambulances.

There are some key points to keep in mind in the next couple of days, Greedan said:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • Take frequent breaks, preferably 30 minutes on 30 minutes off, if you must work outdoors
  • Hydrate with water or sports drinks and avoid sugary beverages or booze
  • Regularly check in with elderly family members or neighbors
  • Keep a close eye on young children

“Both ends of the spectrum, the extremely young and the elderly are both susceptible to heat, especially in these conditions with temperatures in the high 90’s, heat index above 100,” Greedan said. “You definitely want to check on your elderly neighbors and family members and make sure they are doing well. Make sure they’re staying inside, out of the sun.”

If you plan to travel in a car with children or pets in the coming days, Greedan is urging everyone to remember to check their backseat.

“If you’re traveling if you have small children, just check the backseat. We definitely don’t want to leave any children in cars in these temperatures. Just a short amount of time can have catastrophic [effects]. Same thing with our pets,” he said.

At Lombardy Park Tuesday afternoon, Chelsea Smith’s son Flynn was the “king of the sandbox.” They were surprised to see the normally empty park completely empty, despite the growing heat and humidity.

“That’s exactly what we thought when we drove by, we thought it’s dead, there’s nobody here, so we’ll go ahead and stop for a minute. We brought lots of water,” Smith said. “We’ll try to enjoy it a little bit, but the sun came out right as we’re pulling up. So we’ll hang out for a little bit put probably get inside soon.”

Like many parents of little ones, Smith said any outdoor play plan over the next few days will include a key ingredient.

“If we do get out, we’re doing something water probably. Maybe go out and enjoy the river a little bit,” she said. “As soon as you get out, you’re feeling it.”

Many cities and counties in Central Virginia have cooling stations available for those who need a place to get relief. Petersburg opened one at the Petersburg Transit Center on Washington Street.