Beat the heat at cooling cen­ters

The Dundalk Eagle - - BY THE PEOPLE -

The past few weeks through­out Bal­ti­more County and the en­tire state of Mary­land have been scorchers and the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice is pre­dict­ing that heat in­dex val­ues will reach up to 109 de­grees this week along the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay area.

Luck­ily, peo­ple can es­cape this de­bil­i­tat­ing heat by vis­it­ing one of Bal­ti­more County’s cooling ar­eas: Back River Com­mu­nity Cen­ter

801 Back River Neck Road Es­sex, MD 21221 South East Re­gional Re­cre­ation Cen­ter

4021 North point Road Dun­dalk, MD 21222

These cooling cen­ters are open 7 days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All vis­i­tors must wear masks and prac­tice so­cial dis­tanc­ing. Masks will be pro­vided for those who need one.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice, weather pat­terns in the mid-At­lantic fre­quently re­sult in ex­tended pe­ri­ods of ex­tremely high tem­per­a­tures dur­ing the sum­mer months.

Health ex­perts from the county’s health depart­ment agree that the com­bi­na­tion of high tem­per­a­tures, hu­mid­ity and poor air qual­ity con­sti­tute a threat, es­pe­cially to cer­tain groups of peo­ple: chil­dren, the el­derly and those with res­pi­ra­tory or other health prob­lems.

Heat-re­lated ill­nesses range from mi­nor prob­lems, such as heat stress and heat cramps, to se­ri­ous ill­nesses such as heat ex­haus­tion and heat stroke. Heat ex­haus­tion of­ten oc­curs after sev­eral days of high tem­per­a­tures dur­ing which some­one loses water and salt through per­spi­ra­tion. Symp­toms in­clude dizzi­ness, weak­ness, fa­tigue and nau­sea.

Heat stroke, the most dan­ger­ous heat-re­lated ill­ness, can be fa­tal. It oc­curs when body tem­per­a­ture rises above 105 de­grees. The pa­tient ini­tially feels lethar­gic, then of­ten be­comes con­fused and even­tu­ally loses con­scious­ness.

If you or some­one you know be­gins to ex­pe­ri­ence symp­toms of heat-re­lated ill­ness, seek shel­ter in a cool place. Drink water and use a cool, damp cloth on the face, arms and neck. Seek med­i­cal help if the symp­toms per­sist.

The Of­fice of Home­land Se­cu­rity and Emer­gency Man­age­ment con­sid­ers the County in a pe­riod of pos­si­ble heat emer­gency when the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice fore­casts a Heat In­dex (a com­bi­na­tion of air tem­per­a­ture and rel­a­tive hu­mid­ity) ex­ceed­ing 110 de­grees for three con­sec­u­tive days.

When the heat in­dex ex­ceeds 105 de­grees for two con­sec­u­tive days and is ex­pected to con­tinue, the Of­fice of Emer­gency Man­age­ment will be­gin a heat watch. Pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cers will re­lease in­for­ma­tion en­cour­ag­ing cit­i­zens to take pro­tec­tive ac­tions.

When the heat in­dex ex­ceeds 105 de­grees for four con­sec­u­tive days and is fore­cast to con­tinue, emer­gency plan­ners will be­gin a heat warn­ing. Dur­ing a heat warn­ing, county of­fi­cials and pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cers will pur­sue an ag­gres­sive me­dia cam­paign to alert the pub­lic to the dan­gers of heat ex­haus­tion and heat stroke. The de­part­ments of Ag­ing, Health and So­cial Ser vices will be asked to iden­tify vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions.

The heat watch or warn­ing may be ag­gra­vated by the air qual­ity. The Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment is­sues ozone fore­casts con­sist­ing of Code Green, Code Yel­low, Code Or­ange and Code Red.

Code Red mean air qual­ity is un­healthy. Tem­per­a­tures are in the 90 to 100 de­gree range, with hazy hu­mid stagnant air. Those in­di­vid­u­als with heart and res­pi­ra­tory ail­ments should limit out­door ac­tiv­ity. All oth­ers should re­duce stren­u­ous out­door ex­er­cise. Fol­low rec­om­mended ac­tions for other codes as much as pos­si­ble.

Code Or­ange means air qual­ity is ap­proach­ing un­healthy. Tem­per­a­tures are in the up­per 80s to 90s with light winds. Re­fuel cars after dusk limit driv­ing; share a ride or drive your new­est, best-main­tained ve­hi­cle; avoid mow­ing lawns with gas-pow­ered mow­ers.

Code Yel­low means air qual­ity is mod­er­ate. Tem­per­a­tures are mild in the up­per 70s and 80s with winds un­der 15 knots. Con­sol­i­date trips to re­duce ve­hi­cle us­age; limit car idling; car­pool or use mass tran­sit.

Code Green means air qual­ity is good. Tem­per­a­tures are cool, with wind and rain typ­i­cal of pass­ing cold fronts.

Dur­ing in­tense heat waves, health ex­perts rec­om­mend peo­ple to stay in­side or in shaded ar­eas, use air con­di­tion­ing, if your home has it. If it does not, use fans where pos­si­ble, keep win­dows shaded and stay on the low­est level be­cause heat rises. Peo­ple with­out air con­di­tion­ing could also visit a place that is air con­di­tioned: a movie theater, a mall, the home of a friend or rel­a­tive who has air con­di­tion­ing.

Other rec­om­men­da­tions are to avoid cook­ing and in­stead eat cold or pre­pared foods be­cause op­er­at­ing a stove causes a house to heat dra­mat­i­cally.

Drink­ing plenty of water or non­al­co­holic bev­er­ages, wear­ing loos­e­fit­ting, light-col­ored cloth­ing and a wide-brimmed hat and ap­ply­ing sun­screen (SPF of 15 or higher) 20 min­utes be­fore go­ing out into the sun are also other ways to stay healthy dur­ing ex­tended pe­ri­ods of heat.

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