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Be ready for hot weather

July 6, 2012
The Daily News

It's summer and it's hot.

Normally the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin are spared. We're cooler than Chicago, New York and other traditional heat wave targets.

Not this year. Wednesday saw record heat in Iron Mountain-Kingsford; so did Thursday.

We may have more record days this summer.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants individuals and families to understand how to cope with excessive heat and is encouraging everyone to exercise caution when faced with extreme conditions.

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings and advisories in areas throughout the Midwest for the next several days.

A heat index in excess of 100-105 can be expected in these areas. It is essential residents take the necessary precautions to avoid the harmful impacts of the high temperatures.

"A combination of high temperatures and high humidity can create a dangerous situation for you and your family," said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA Region V administrator. "Know the steps you can take to stay safe in excessive heat and remember to check in on family, friends, and neighbors especially those who are elderly, disabled or have functional needs."

"The key to survival is to know what to do before and during a period of extreme heat," Velasquez said.

During extremely hot weather, area residents are urged to take the following precautions:

- Become familiar with the emergency plans of your community, school, caregivers and workplace.

- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.

- If your home is without power, consider staying with family or friends or visiting a local cooling center. Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.

- Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities that are air conditioned.

- Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

- Drink plenty of water. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.

- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.

- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.

- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone. It is especially important to check on the elderly, disabled and those with functional needs.

- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.

- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.

To prepare for extreme heat:

- Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.

- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.

- Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.

- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)

- Keep storm windows up all year.

- If you are without air conditioning, you can use box fans and ceiling fans to promote air circulation throughout your home. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.

Extreme heat brings with it the possibility of heat-induced illnesses, including severe sunburns, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Understand your symptoms, and take the appropriate actions, seeking medical attention if your conditions are severe.

Additionally, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, offers some general guidelines to help protect children from heat-related illnesses:

- Drink plenty of fluids during vigorous or outdoor activities (including sunbathing), especially on hot days. Drinks of choice include water and sports drinks; avoid alcohol and fluids with caffeine such as tea, coffee and cola, as these can lead to dehydration.

- Dress your child in light-colored, lightweight, tightly-woven, loose-fitting clothing on hot days.

- Schedule vigorous activity and sports for cooler times of the day. Take rest periods in shady or cool areas.

- Protect children from the sun by having them wear a hat and sunglasses and by using an umbrella. Use a sunscreen that is at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15.

- Increase time spent outdoors gradually to get your child's body used to the heat.

- Teach children to take frequent drink breaks and "wet down" or mist themselves with a spray bottle to avoid becoming overheated.

- Try to spend as much time indoors as possible on very hot and humid days.

- Do not leave children unattended in a hot automobile.

- Teach children to warm-up and cool-down before and after exercising.

- If your child has a medical condition or is taking medication, consult your child's physician for further advice for preventing heat-related illnesses.

Signs of heat-related illness:

- Cramps.

- Very high body temperature.

- Red, hot, dry skin (athlete is not sweating) or heavy sweating.

- Rapid pulse.

- Throbbing headache.

- Dizziness.

- Nausea/vomiting.

- Confusion.

- Loss of consciousness.

- Paleness.



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