Community Representatives Offer Tips To Overcome High Temperatures
The forces of nature are often man’s mortal adversary — literally. Every year, people die or fall ill due to weather-related conditions, chief among them being heat-related maladies. As Chautauqua County dives into the summer months, various community representatives elected to give advice to certain segments of the population on how to properly deal with rising temperatures.
As older adults need to be more aware of their bodies while in direct heat, they should stay well-hydrated. That means the traditional eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day is a bare minimum. Marry Ann Spanos, director of the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging, suggests that those with chronic conditions especially stay well-hydrated.
Another tip she points out is for elderly individuals to avoid doing housework or other physical activity during the hottest midday hours and instead electing to take care of these tasks during the early morning or late afternoon. Noon to 3 p.m. is typically when the sun beats down the hardest. Like some people in various European nations or countries near the equator do, it might be prudent to take siestas during these hours.
Wearing loose, breathable clothing is another way to combat the heat. For those who do not have air conditioning, using shades or blinds to block out the sun is one way to lessen the amount of heat coming into one’s house.
Cooling centers are also set up around the county, providing cool air and open space for anyone to enjoy.
“If they’re feeling sluggish or unwell because of the heat, they can go there to cool down,” Spanos said.
Chautauqua County’s cooling centers include: Ashville Free Library, Ahira Hall Memorial Library, Cassadaga Branch Library, Dunkirk Senior Center, Darwin R. Barker Library Association, Crystal Ballroom Senior Center, Fluvanna Free Library, Hazeltine Public Library, James Prendergast Library Association, Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena, Kennedy Free Library, St. Mary of Lourdes Church Hall, Alexander Findley Community Library, Sinclairville Free Library and Mary E. Seymour Library.
The New York State Office for the Aging also urges older New Yorkers and their caregivers to prepare for the extreme heat on the horizon.
“Older adults, especially those who are low-income, live alone, have chronic conditions or who take certain medications, are more susceptible to heat-related illness,” said Greg Olsen, New York State Office for the Aging Acting Director.
Heat and humidity combinations are expected to make temperatures feel like the mid-90s and up to 104 degrees this weekend. The office encourages senior citizens to stay inside in cooled areas when possible, drink before becoming thirsty, take cool baths or showers, stay up to date with weather forecasts and seek medical care immediately if symptoms of heat-related illnesses such as muscle cramps, headaches, nausea or vomiting are experienced.
Many of the tips for senior citizens still apply to other human beings trying to make it through the summer months. Unit director for the emergency department at UPMC Chautauqua WCA, Priscilla Banes, has multiple points of advice for those who want to stay far away from a heat-related emergency.
“You need to stay hydrated because if you’re sweating, you’re losing fluids and your electrolyte balance is off,” Banes said.
If someone is intent on enjoying the June/July sunshine in the coming days, rotation into and out of the shade is key. Frequent breaks in a cooler environment could be what keeps someone from suffering heat exhaustion or worse.
Loose clothing is key, specifically if it’s lightweight and also light in color so as not to absorb the sun’s rays. Otherwise, more heat will be contained near the body. Cool treats are also a good idea for kids and adults alike. A popsicle or frozen yogurt now and then won’t hurt.
Speaking of food, several smaller meals are better than large meals in hot weather. The energy it takes to digest a lot of food contributes to an overheated body in an undesired way, so lighter meals will keep energy use to a minimum.
“Everyone should have on sunscreen no matter what,” Banes said.
Reapplying sunscreen is crucial. A common misconception is that one application will be enough to protect against radiation that causes burns. Banes personally uses SPF 50 or higher with her family, and she insists that the higher sun protection factor, the more likely burns will be prevented.
The type of sunscreen used is often determined by skin type, but even those with darker skin should use the product to prevent skin cancer and burns that can even cause blisters. Aloe vera and fans can help ease the pain of burns, but Banes says prevention is better than treatment.
The National Grid offers advice for those who want to stay cool and save energy at the same time. Using programmable thermostats to air condition rooms, unplugging electronics not in use, considering replacing older-model refrigerators and leaving ceiling fans on while at home and off while away are all possible ways to keep a room cool and energy-sufficient.
Pets are another part of our families that deserve special attention when blistering days roll around. There is the obvious need to not keep animals in hot vehicles, even for a short amount of time. Still, many pet-owners are suspect of doing this, so it’s best to keep pets at home when traveling or running errands during the summer months.
Making sure pets have fresh, clean water available at all times and keeping them indoors during extreme heat are the most important tips to remember. Signs that a pet may be overheating include excessive panting, difficulty breathing and drooling.
“With the hot weather in the forecast, the Chautauqua County Humane Society wants to remind people to be sure their pets are properly cared for,” said Brian Papalia, community relations director for the humane society.
Papalia further emphasizes the need to not put animals in hot car situations. He cited an example that if an animal is left in a vehicle while the outside temperature is 85 degrees, the temperature inside the car will rise to 92 degrees in only five minutes. The inner temperature will reach 98 degrees at 10 minutes’ time and so on. Leaving windows cracked notably does not help the situation for the animal.