Heat wave to hit its peak Friday, Saturday with temperatures near or at 100

Summer always brings out the beachgoers in the Lowcountry, but a heat wave can create unforeseen dangers. Temperatures should peak Friday and Saturday at or near 100 degrees. But with dangerous heat indices predicted, the American Red Cross is urging caution.

The heat wave that’s been broiling the Lowcountry should climb higher Friday and reach its peak Saturday.

The mercury is expected to reach 99 degrees at the Charleston International Airport on Friday and 100 degrees Saturday, and the humidity will make it feel much hotter.

“There’s a small chance that it reaches 100 degrees on Friday, but the best chance for that is Saturday,” said Bob Bright, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.”

The record high for Friday’s date was 100, and 103 for Saturday’s date. Both were set in 1986, when a July heat wave lingered for two weeks. The Weather Service takes readings for its record books at the airport.

Thursday’s high temperature was 97, below the record of 99 set in 1954.

The Weather Service doesn’t keep records for the heat index, the combination of temperature and humidity that determines how hot it feels.

The normal high for this time of year is 91. Temperatures are expected to return to normal the middle of next week. The expected high for Sunday is 96.

Scattered thunderstorms haven’t done much to cool things off. Pop-up storms remain a threat, although they’re not expected to be as strong as the one that pushed through the Lowcountry Wednesday night. That storm knocked out power for about 3,400 customers. The biggest outage was south of Greenridge Road in North Charleston, according to South Carolina Electric & Gas.

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that a 31-year-old man living in a home without air conditioning in Columbia died from heat exposure. The death occurred during a five-day stretch of the temperature high reaching at least 100 degrees.

“The combination of heat and humidity can create more than just a nuisance — it can lead to a life-threatening situation,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for the Palmetto SC Region of the American Red Cross. “There are several precautionary steps people can take to prevent heat-related emergencies, like sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.”

The Red Cross on Thursday issued an advisory on how to prevent heat illnesses:

Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles. The temperature inside can reach a dangerous level within a few minutes.

Slow down, take frequent breaks and use the buddy system.

Stay hydrated; drink more water than usual.

Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing

Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

If possible, bring animals inside. If not, frequently check to ensure they are comfortable and have water and a shady place to rest.

The Red Cross also listed some signs of heat stroke and how to handle it:

Cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin

Headache, dizziness or nausea

Red skin that can either be dry or moist

Changes in consciousness

Rapid, weak pulse

Rapid, shallow breathing

Someone experiencing these symptoms should be moved to a cooler place and given cool water to drink gradually. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 911.

Derrek Asberry contributed to this report. Reach Dave Munday at 843-937-5553.