File photo: Denise Civiletti

A heat advisory is in effect today in Suffolk County and across the New York metro region.

Hot temperatures and high humidity will produce heat index values up to 97° F. on the East End, according to the National Weather Service. Heat index values of 100 or higher are forecast for western Suffolk, and the rest of the metro region, including Northern New Jersey and much of the lower Hudson Valley and southern Connecticut.

The heat advisory remains in effect until 8 p.m. tomorrow.

A high risk for life-threatening rip currents exists today at ocean beaches across the island today, the weather service said.

Life-threatening rip currents are likely for all people entering the surf zone. Anyone visiting the beaches should stay out of the surf, the NWS said. Rip currents can sweep even the best swimmers away from shore into deeper water.

An air quality index of 55 is forecast for today and an AQI of 85 is forecast tomorrow, levels that are considered moderate. The pollutant of concern is ground-level ozone.

The UV index today is 8 — exposure category “very high.” People outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. should take precautions against skin damage from sun exposure: wear a shirt, hat and sunscreen and be sure to seek shade.

Health risks of high heat and humidity

High temperatures and humidity may cause heat illness to occur, the National Weather Service said in a statement.

Heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, happen when the body is not able to properly cool itself, according to the CDC. While the body normally cools itself by sweating, during extreme heat, this might not be enough. In these cases, a person’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down. This can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs.

Factors that might increase your risk of developing a heat-related illness include:

  • High levels of humidity
  • Obesity
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Prescription drug use
  • Heart disease
  • Mental illness
  • Poor circulation
  • Sunburn
  • Alcohol use

Older adults, the very young and people with mental illness and chronic disease are at higher risk. But even young and healthy people can be affected if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather, the CDC said.

The most common type of heat illness is heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: heavy sweating; cold, pale, and clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; tiredness or weakness; dizziness; muscle cramps; headache; fainting (passing out); and nausea or vomiting.

Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should move to a cool place, loosen clothing, put cool, wet cloths on the body or take a cool bath, and sip water, the CDC said. If symptoms get worse last longer than one hour, or if the affected person begins vomiting, seek medical assistance.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency, the CDC said. Call 911 right away if someone affected by heat illness has symptoms of heat stroke, which include: a body temperature of 103° or higher; hot, red skin (dry or damp; a fast strong pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; loss of consciousness. Move the person to a cooler place and place cool cloths on their skin to help lower body temperature. Do not give the person anything to drink.

Tips for coping with high heat:

Use air conditioning to stay cool at home or go to a place that has air conditioning. Outdoors, stay in shaded locations, limit vigorous physical activity and drink plenty of water.

Remember to check on vulnerable friends, family members and neighbors.

Don’t keep pets outdoors for extended periods and make sure they have an adequate supply of fresh water.

For more information on protection from heat-related illness for specific groups, visit the CDC website.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.