A few months ago, our region was battling one of the harshest winters in recent memory. The hillsides were buried under snow for months and households struggled to maintain warm homes.
As exhausting as this past winter was, a nice cool blanket of snow seems rather refreshing right now. As temperatures soar to 100 degrees, it appears our summer is in full swing and hotter than usual.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over 8,000 deaths were caused by excessive heat exposure from 1979 to 2003. During this period, more deaths were caused by heat exposure than hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes combined. With the appropriate knowledge and resources, everyone should be able to stay safe and unharmed as the heat wave continues.
Children, elderly, and those with chronic health conditions are at the highest risk from over exposure to heat. The CDC states that the best avenue to handle over exposure is taking advantage of air conditioning. If a residence does not have air conditioning, the CDC recommends visiting shopping malls, grocery stores, and other public facilities that offer a cooler environment.
"When it’s hot, we stay inside. Our patients generally don’t leave the comfort of the air conditioning," said Jessica Anderson of Beulah House in Dublin. Beulah House is an intensive assisted-living facility providing care and comfort measures for persons who have a life-limiting illness and who do not have a willing and able caregiver.
The CDC also advises that all individuals should increase non-alcoholic fluid intake, regardless of activity levels. Caffeinated beverage, such as soda and tea, intake should also be monitored, as it is a diuretic and may not ward off dehydration as well as non-caffeinated beverages.
The body normally cools itself by sweating, but under extreme temperatures such as what we are currently experiencing, sweating may not be enough. If a person becomes light-headed, weak, confused, or feels faint he or she should quickly be moved to a cooler location.
As people participate in summer fun outdoors and at the pool, activity levels should be moderate. Outdoor workers should use a buddy system to ensure their safety. Everyone in the sun should have access to fluids and sun screen.
Additionally, remember to keep pets and livestock hydrated and provide a cool place for them to rest. Animals are also at risk for over exposure to heat in such high temperatures.
If you fear that you or someone else is suffering from exposure and is not recovering after being moved to a cooler location and hydrated, contact a doctor or closest hospital for assistance.