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Record Storms Leave Millions Without Power During Massive Heat Wave

In one of the largest power outages unrelated to a hurricane, Virginia joins Maryland, Ohio, Washington D.C., and West Virginia in declaring states of emergency in regard not just to the storm damage that occurred over the weekend, but to the blistering heat wave sweeping across the Central and Eastern United States, engulfing residents in heat index temperatures well over triple digits.

In the span of one week, temperature records that were broken or tied numbered 1,928 nationwide. The National Weather Service is continuing to issue heat index warnings for multiple areas across the country. For instance, heat index temperatures along the North Carolina coast could go as high as 120 degrees.

Authorities say that the effects of the heat are cumulative, which means that the longer one is exposed, the more likelihood of heat stroke or dehydration. The continuation of high temperatures is of great concern to municipalities across the country, especially in regard to the aged, infirm, or very young.

And three days after the violent rare derecho storms that raged across the East, approximately 3 million are still without power. This unusual weather event comes with wind speeds typically averaging 70 miles per hour, a speed that is comparable to a Category 1 hurricane.

“Outside a hurricane, a derecho is one of the worst storms that can run through the area,” local Washington D.C. ABC affiliate meteorologist Mike Stinneford says. “It’s very unusual to have a derecho come this far south, also to come in the evening, also to come over the [Blue Ridge] mountains.”

“Outside of a hurricane, you will never see wind damage this widespread or this long-lived unless you had a land-falling hurricane,” Stinneford concluded.

Power officials say that it could be up to a week before power is restored. “This is very unfortunate timing,” said Pepco spokeswoman Myra Oppel, which reported over 400,000 outages in Washington and its suburbs. “We do understand the hardship that this brings, especially with the heat as intense at is. We will be working around the clock until we get the last customer on.”

Extra precautions should be taken during this time of increased heat and lack of power. Drink plenty of water, and avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages (diuretics) which can cause dehydration. However, don’t chug down the ice water. Drinking ice water quickly can lead to cramps. Better to sip slowly and give your stomach time to acclimate. Avoid heavy meals and wear light clothing. If you feel you or others are suffering from heat exhaustion, cool down with the application of wet sheets or towels.

And don’t forget your animals. Make sure they have plenty of water and a shady spot to get out of the weather.

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