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Help others beat the heat

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every area of life, and other emergencies are no different.

For months now, government entities and nonprofits have been preparing for the possible intersection of the pandemic and hurricane season. A hurricane hitting land is always difficult to deal with, and adding in a pandemic will make it that much harder.

A lesser emergency that fewer people thought of was a major heat wave, which much of Virginia will be dealing with this week.

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook in advance of increasing heat and humidity levels expected this weekend and through the middle of next week.

Heat indices of 100 to 105 will scorch the area Saturday and Sunday, with Monday through Wednesday being even worse, up to 109 degrees.

There are many safety tips that apply to this situation, including not going outside if you don’t have to and drinking plenty of water. You can see more tips on page 11. But one of the most important tends to be forgotten.

We encourage everyone to check on your friends and neighbors in the middle of this heat — especially the elderly and those with compromised respiratory systems. If they are unable to cool their homes, see what you can do that will also be in keeping with pandemic guidance about social distancing. Perhaps you can make sure they have something cool to drink, ask if they are experiencing any symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, or maybe — if the situation is dire enough — let them soak up some of the air-conditioning at your house, provided of course neither of you has coronavirus symptoms and you keep your distance from one another. The pandemic is real, but heatstroke is, too. Don’t make it a party — have over only those who truly need a break from the heat.

With the city’s normal cooling stations, such as libraries, still closed to the public because of the pandemic, we’ll all need to help each other.