Keeping your cool
Officials urge caution as temps rise
— As temperatures begin to creep up, residents should take precautions to stay safe and cool during the summertime, officials said this week.
”Summer heat carries with it some serious health risks for people of any age or health condition,” Cecil County Health Officer Stephanie Garrity said. “I advise everyone to follow common-sense precautions to stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed about
the weather and its impact on their health.”
Heat-related illnesses can lead to severe health consequences including disability, and even death, said Gregg Bortz, public affairs officer for the county health department.
In high humidity, sweat does not evaporate quickly, which prevents the body from releasing heat as quickly as it needs to in order to cool off, he said. Personal factors, such as age and weight among others, also play roles in whether a person can cool off enough in hot weather.
Bortz said young
children, who are preschool age and younger, those 65 years and older and those with chronic diseases are the most at-risk groups. He said they have “additional health risk factors that affect their bodies’ ability to cool itself off in response to extreme heat.” Although, that does not mean others are not at risk, such as those who participate in strenuous activity in the heat, he added.
Preventative measures include taking using air conditioning or going to a public place with air conditioning, such as a shopping mall or library, drinking water and fluids with no caffeine or alcohol, limiting physical activity, especially during midday when temperatures are at their peaks, and wearing sunscreen and loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing, Bortz said. He also advised residents to take cool showers or baths or participate in an activity such as (L-R) Kayla Gillespie and her mother, Sara Peters, of North East, sit under the trees as Gillespie’s children and their cousin play on the jungle gym at Meadow Park in Elkton on Thursday afternoon.
swimming to cool down. People should check news outlets for weather forecasts and heat advisories, he said.
“Very importantly, check on family members or neighbors who may be elderly or may meet some of these other high-risks just to make
sure they are aware, and that they are able to take some of the precautions,” he said.
He also advised that children and pets should not be unattended in cars — ever — but especially not in the heat.
”The heat, if a car is not running and does not have air flow, can build up in there to a point it’s a health risk,” Bortz said.
There are also three common heat-related illnesses to be aware of: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat cramps are short, severe cramps in the muscles of the leg, arm or abdomen during or after heavy exercise in extreme heat, Bortz said. This occurs when heavy sweating uses up the body’s supply of salts, causing cramps, he said. People who suffer from the cramps should rehydrate themselves, go to a cool area and stop activity for a few hours until the cramps have subsided, he said.
Cramps are also an early indication of heat exhaustion and if they have not gone away after an hour, one should seek medical attention, Bortz said.
Heat exhaustion occurs when a person spends too much time in a hot area without drinking enough fluids, Bortz said. Symp- toms include thirst, fatigue, weakness, clammy skin and rapid breathing, sometimes nausea or vomiting, he said. To alleviate the issue, drink fluids, rest, take a cool shower or bath, go into an air conditioned area, and wear clothes are loose and light-weight, Bortz said. He said if there is nausea and vomiting that continues, seek medical attention.
“Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness,” Bortz said.
A heat stroke occurs that’s when a person’s body temperature increases rapidly, with symptoms including a body temperature increase to 103 degrees and higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Along with the temperature increase, other symptoms include the person does not sweat, rapid and weak pulse and red, hot and dry skin, he said. Bortz said this is an medical emergency and help must be called after the person is out of the sun and cooled down a bit. He advised to check the person’s temperature often.
Around Elkton, many residents were heeding officials cautions as Thursday’s temperatures hung in the mid-80s.
Kayla Gillespie, who is visiting from Seattle but grew up in Perryville, said she makes sure to drink enough water and stay in the shade.
”I always drink a lot of water,” Gillespie said.
She said she takes multiple precautions to make sure her two children are protected, as well. She said they are “painted” in sunblock and spend lots of time running through sprinklers or swimming in pools to cool off.
Gillespie wasn’t alone in that thought either, as Brittany Cesari took her children and younger brother to the Big Elk Creek in Meadow Park on Thursday afternoon to cool off in the shallow water.
”We don’t have a slowmoving creek like this back at home, so we let the boys take advantage of this,” said the Tennessee woman visiting family this week.
Vincent Danenza, 13, plays with his nephew, Mason, 3, in the Big Elk Creek on Thursday as they tried to cool off.
As temperatures push into the high 80s and 90s over coming weeks, officials are advising caution for the young and old.