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7online guide to 'Beat the Heat'

July 18, 2008 2:59:47 PM PDT
The weather is making news as temperatures soar into the 90s across the area. 7online.com has some tips to help you beat the heat. HEAT WAVE SAFETY TIPS
From the Office of Fire & Emergency Services

KNOW WHAT THESE TERMS MEAN:

Heat Wave: Three straight days of +90 degree temperatures.

Heat Index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit that tells how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature.

Heat Cramps: Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Usually occur in abdominal or leg muscles.

Heat Exhaustion: Occurs when people exercise or work excessively in a warm humid place where body fluids are lost through sweating heavily. Blood flow to skin increases, decreasing the flow to vital organs which may result in mild shock. If not treated, body temperature will continue to rise and victim may suffer heat stroke.

Heat Stroke: This is a life-threatening condition in which the victim's body can no longer cool itself. Body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death can result.

SYMPTOMS OF HEAT INJURIES:

Heat Exhaustion: Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; excessive sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.

Heat Stroke: Hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high - approaching 105 degrees F. Skin may be wet from excessive sweating due to work; otherwise, it will feel dry.

IF A HEAT WAVE IS PREDICTED OR HAPPENING:

  • Slow down and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Wear lightweight, light colored clothing.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly and often.
  • Avoid drinks that contain alcohol and caffeine. These substances dehydrate the body.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high protein foods which increase the metabolic rate.
  • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed by a physician.
  • TREATMENT OF HEAT INJURIES:

    Heat Cramps: Get the person to a cooler place and have them rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids. Give a half glass of water every fifteen minutes.

    Heat Exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and remove or loosen tight clothing. Apply cool, wet compresses. If person is conscious, give them cool water to drink (half a glass, every 15 minutes). Let victim rest and monitor their condition.

    Heat Stroke: Heat stroke is life threatening. Medical attention is needed immediately. Call 911. Move body into cool place and cool the body quickly. Immerse the victim in cool bath or wrap wet sheets around body and fan the person. Monitor victim's breathing and continue to cool body.

    Do Not Give Fluids! Moisten lips only.

    WESTCHESTER

    To help residents cope with the soaring temperatures, the Health Department offers a 24-hour "Stay Cool" Information Line, (914) 813-5620, which provides tips on how to stay cool in the heat and identifies air-conditioned locations such as libraries, shopping malls, movie theaters and senior centers throughout the county where residents can go to beat the heat. A listing of some air-conditioned community locations is available on the Health Department's website,www.westchestergov.com/health .

    For information on Westchester pool hours, call the parks department at (914) 864-PARK or log on to Westchestergov.com/parks

    Tips on Beating the Heat:

  • Stay out of the sun. When in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15).
  • Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible to prevent sunburn. Give your body a chance to adjust to extreme temperature changes.
  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids. Water and diluted juices are your best choices.
  • Stay away from carbonated drinks.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can actually harm one's ability to cool oneself. Those on fluid-restricted diets or taking diuretics should consult their physician.
  • Use shades or awnings.
  • Keep rooms well-ventilated with air conditioners and fans. Keep your windows open if you don't have a fan or air conditioning.
  • Cool down with repeated cool baths or showers.
  • Consider going to public pools and air-conditioned stores and malls.
  • Never leave children, pets, or those who require special care in a parked car during periods of intense summer heat.
  • Make a special effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are seniors, young children, and people with special needs. Many older New Yorkers live alone and could suffer unnecessarily in the heat because they are isolated from friends and family.
  • Seniors and others who may be sensitive to extreme heat should contact friends, neighbors, or relatives at least twice a day during a heat wave.
  • Seek help if you feel symptoms of heat-related illness.

    ROCKLAND COUNTY COOLING CENTERS:

    Cooling centers have been established at the following locations for Thursday, July 17th and Friday, July 18th:

  • Town of Clarkstown - Central Nyack, Congers and Pascack Community Centers: 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Palisades Center Mall Community Center: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Town of Haverstraw - Rosman Road Town Hall: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Village of Haverstraw - Community Center: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Village of Nyack - Courtroom or lobby: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Village of Sloatsburg - Sloatsburg Senior Center: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Village Hall: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Village of Spring Valley - Kurtz Civic Center: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Village of Suffern - Village Hall: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Town of Ramapo - Town Hall: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • St. Lawrence Center: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Town of Orangetown - New Courtroom: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

    For more tips on how to stay cool in extreme heat and other important heat-related information from Rockland County, please visit Rocklandgov.com.

    Power Outages due to Heat

    Customers can view a map of Con Edison's service area to see if there are any outages affecting their area by going to www.coned.com/sm/outageinfo.asp. You can also find safety tips and other useful information to help reduce the inconvenience of being without power if there is a service disruption by visiting Con Edison's Storm Central Web pages at www.coned.com/sm/default.asp.

    To conserve energy, the company recommends that customers take the following steps:

  • Turn off air conditioners, lights and other appliances when not at home and use a timer to turn on your air conditioner about a half-hour before arriving home;
  • Make sure air conditioner filters are clean so the machines will run at peak efficiency;
  • Set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees. Each degree lower increases cooling costs by six percent;
  • If you have a room air-conditioning unit, close off the rooms not being used; if you have central air, close or block the vents in unused or vacant rooms;
  • To reduce heat and moisture in your apartment or home, run appliances such as ovens, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers in the early morning or late at night when it's generally cooler outside. Use a microwave to cook, or barbecue outside, if possible;
  • Keep shades, blinds and curtains closed. About 40 percent of unwanted heat comes through windows. Drawing blinds and curtains, which act as a layer of insulation, can reduce heat in your apartment or home.
  • You can find more energy saving tips and information at pseg.com/saveenergy.

    DO NOT OPEN FIRE HYDRANTS

    Some people open fire hydrants on hot days, often without realizing the possible consequences for fire-fighting, domestic water use, and the safety of young children.

    The unauthorized opening of New York City fire hydrants is illegal, and often spikes during heat waves. Opened hydrants lower water pressure, cause problems at hospitals and medical facilities and reduce the flow of water needed to fight fires. Opening a hydrant without a spray cap can result in fines of up to $1000, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both.

    The Bureau of Water and Sewer Operations is deploying extra crews beginning at noon on Saturday to respond to open hydrant complaints.

    All New Yorkers should call 311 to report open fire hydrants.

    For more information on HEAT, fire hydrant abuse or DEP, visit nyc.gov/dep.

    Hot Weather Advisory for your pet:

  • Your pet may slow down when the weather heats up, so the best time for exercise is in the early morning or evening, but avoid when it's especially hot or humid.
  • Take care not to let your dog stand on hot asphalt, his body can heat up quickly and his sensitive paw pads can easily burn.
  • Never trim your pet's coat to the skin, which can rob your dog of his protection from the sun. Always provide plenty of shade and cool, clean water for animals kept outdoors.
  • A properly constructed doghouse is a must if you dog lives outdoors. Bring your cat or dog inside during the hottest part of the day. Let him rest in a cool part of the house.
  • When traveling with your pet during hot weather, be sure to carry a gallon-size thermos of water.
  • Some animals will need extra special care in hot weather, especially those who are old and overweight or have heart or lung disease. If your pet is showing signs of heat stroke or exhaustion, take him to the veterinarian immediately.
  • Make sure your pet always wears a collar and identification tag.
  • If kept outside, make sure your pet has plenty of shade. Remember that doghouses are not good shelter during the summer as they can trap heat.
  • Make sure your dog has access to plenty of cool, fresh water 24 hours a day. If your dog travels with you, bring along water and a bowl.
  • Never leave your dog in a vehicle on a warm day. Even with the windows open the temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.
  • It's fun to take your dog with you to run errands, but if you can't bring your dog inside the store, it's best to leave him home. Tying a dog outside a store is dangerous because he is exposed to the hot sun and strangers who could be unkind.
  • Make sure your dog's vaccinations are up-to-date. Dogs tend to stay outdoors longer and come into contact with other animals more during the summer months.
  • Keep dogs off lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or according to package instructions), and away from potentially toxic plants and flowers. Visit www.akc.org for a list of toxic plants.
  • Mosquitoes (which carry heartworm disease) along with fleas and ticks are more prevalent in warmer months. Ask your veterinarian for an effective preventive to keep these parasites off your dog.
  • Many dogs like swimming, but some cannot swim or may not like the water. Be conscious of your dog's preferences and skills before putting him in the water. Always supervise your pet while swimming.
  • Chlorine from pools and bacteria from streams, lakes and ponds can be toxic for a dog's system. Always rinse your dog with clean water after swimming. Beware of the wildlife that may pose a danger to your swimming pet. Some catfish are known for attacking small dogs.
  • Many airlines will not ship animals during summer months due to dangers caused by hot weather. Some will only allow dogs to fly in the early morning or in the evening. Check with your airlines for specific rules. Shipping policies can be found at www.akc.org/pdfs/canine_legislation/airline_chart_0605.pdf.
  • If traveling by car, keep your dog cool by putting icepacks such as frozen water bottles in his crate. DO NOT use freezer ice packs which contain poisonous materials. Make sure the crate is well ventilated. For more traveling tips visit www.akc.org/public_education/travel.cfm.

    Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses:

    Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion occurs when body fluids are lost through heavy sweating due to vigorous exercise or working in a hot, humid place. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to vital organs to decrease. Symptoms include: sweating; pale, clammy skin; fatigue; headache; dizziness; shallow breaths; and a weak or rapid pulse. Victims of heat exhaustion are tired but not confused.

    Heat exhaustion should be treated with rest in a cool area, drinking water or electroyte solutions, elevating the feet 12 inches, and further medical treatment in severe cases. If not treated, the victim's condition may escalate to heat stroke. If the victim does not respond to basic treatment, seek medical attention. Heat exhaustion usually occurs when the heat index is between 90 and 105 degrees.

    Heat Stroke: Heat stroke - also called "sunstroke" - occurs when the victim's temperature control system, which produces perspiration to cool the body, stops working. The skin is flushed, hot and dry, and body temperature may be elevated. In fact, body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. The victim may also be confused, develop seizures, breathe shallowly, and have a weak, rapid pulse.

    Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and people exhibiting its symptoms should seek emergency medical attention. Heat stroke usually occurs when the heat index is 130 degrees or higher, but can occur when the heat index surpasses 105 degrees.

    Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms resulting from heavy exertion during extreme heat. Although heat cramps are the least severe of all heat-related health problems, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble coping with the heat and should be treated immediately with rest and fluids. Stretching or direct pressure can also reduce cramps. Unless very severe, heat cramps do not require emergency medical attention. Heat cramps usually occur when the heat index is between 90 and 105 degrees.

    Learn more about heat-related illnesses through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


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