OSWEGO COUNTY – Forecasts for dangerous high heat over this weekend are a reminder for Oswego County residents to take precautions to stay cool and avoid heat-related illnesses, the Oswego County Health Department and Emergency Management Office advise.
The National Weather Service – Buffalo Forecast Office – has indicated building heat on Friday followed by dangerously high heat index values through the weekend which could result in the need for heat advisories and possibly high heat warnings.
“People should be aware of the warning signs of heat-related illness and take special care of individuals at risk,” said Jiancheng Huang, Public Health Director for Oswego County.
“It’s important to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your pets from the effects of excessive heat,” added Dale A. Currier, director of Oswego County Emergency Management Office.
“The elderly and young children are at higher risk for heat illness,” Huang said. “People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies cannot cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. When humidity levels are high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly.”
Other conditions related to the risk of heat-related illness include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.
“Some pets, such as dogs, don’t sweat and are also prone to health illness as well,” Currier said. “They need a lot of extra water along with access to shade or cool areas. Many dogs appreciate a chance to swim or time under the sprinkler to keep cooled down. Please plan for the extra pet care.”
Heat stroke is an illness that occurs when the body cannot regulate its temperature.
The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down.
Body temperature may rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.
This type of heat-related illness can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
Warning signs of heat illness could include:
• Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)
• Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
• Throbbing headache
• Dizziness, nausea, and confusion
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after multiple days of exposure to high temperatures without proper fluid intake.
If left untreated, it can progress to more serious heat stroke.
Warning signs of heat exhaustion include:
• Heavy sweating
• Muscle cramps
• Tiredness, weakness or dizziness
• Headache, nausea or vomiting
Air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.
If a home is not air-conditioned, people can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned.
“Anyone who experiences serious signs and symptoms of heat-related illness should seek medical care immediately or call 911 to get EMS help,” Currier said.
During the heat advisories and excessive heat warnings, the County Health Department and Emergency Management Office recommend people take the following precautions:
• Take a cool shower or bath.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Try to avoid liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar – these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks; they can cause stomach cramps.
• Stay indoors, and if possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
If you must be out in the heat:
• NEVER leave anyone alone in a parked vehicle with the windows up.
• Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
• Cut down on physical activity.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Try to rest often in shady areas.
• Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a ventilated hat and sunglasses and put on sunscreen.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing.
• Remember your pets can be vulnerable to heat too. Make sure they have shade, plenty of water, and never leave them in a parked vehicle.
For more information on heat safety and heat-related illness, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 315/349-3547, the Oswego County Emergency Management Office at 315/591-9150, or visit the New York State Health Department website at www.health.ny.gov.