Finding ways to beat the heat
TRI-COUNTY AREA—The temperature may be dropping, but people are still dealing with the heat.
In Penn Yan, the temperature got as high as 101 last Thursday, with the heat index reaching 105 degrees. According to Jessica Rennells, representative for the Northeast Regional Climate Center, that was the hottest temperature in Yates County on record since 2001. She added that is the third hottest since 1898: it was 106 degrees in 1936 and 102 degrees in 1931.
Thursday was also the hottest day for Schuyler County since 2001. Rennells said the station in Mecklenberg registered 97 degrees.
The lakes offer several ways to get into the water to stay cool, with public parks in Penn Yan and Hammondsport. There is also the Keuka Lake State Park. Dave Orcutt said a lot of the campers are making use of the swimming areas at the lake. He added he is seeing a lot more of inflatable water toys being used at the camp sites to stay cool.
Carol Oswald, director of the Yates County Red Cross, said they are encouraging seniors to take advantage of libraries and the public access to the lake as places to stay cool. Other than that, Oswald said the Red Cross is discouraging seniors from staying outside, even if it’s to work in the garden. Office for the Aging is offering free rides for seniors age 60 and over to the library, grocery store, etc.
Oswald added people should keep an eye on elderly neighbors in hot weather like this. She explained some seniors don’t have air conditioning.
In cases of very hot temperatures, the office of emergency management services can also form a cooling center. Oswald said the Dundee American Legion hosted one last Thursday to Saturday. She added there were nine people at the cooling station the first day it was open. Seniors can call the Red Cross to ask about cooling centers.
Schuyler County Office for the Aging Executive Director Tamre Waite said New York State Electric and Gas donated 10 floor fans that the meal delivery people have loaned to homes that needed them. Waite added that people who have been eligible for the Home Energy Assistance Program may also be eligible for free air conditioning.
During days of extreme temperatures, Waite explained the emergency management services department can establish cooling stations in the community. She said that so far this summer there haven’t been any. However, she added that seniors who need a cool place to stay can come to the meal site at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls. The Office for the Aging serves lunch to the elderly at the Silver Spoon Cafe. She said it is open, Monday to Friday, and that seniors can arrive before lunch is served and also stay afterwards.
The New York State Department of Health suggests exercising should be done in early morning hours, between 4 and 7 a.m. Strenuous activity should be limited during the sun’s peak hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One of the most obvious things to do is stay hydrated; the DOH says to drink between two and four glasses of water per hour during extreme heat. The state adds that heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body, so people should also drink fruit juices or sports beverages when working in the heat.
According to the DOH, some of the heat health hazards include:
Heat Stroke: Also known as sunstroke - can be life threatening. Body temperature can rise and cause brain damage; death may result if not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red, and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse, and shallow breathing. Relief for lowering body temperature can be with a cold bath or sponge.
Heat Exhaustion: Less dangerous than heat stroke, heat exhaustion usually occurs when people exercise too heavily or work in warm, humid places where body fluids are lost. Signals include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness and exhaustion. If symptoms occur, get the victim out of sun, and apply cool, wet cloths.
Sunburn: Sunburn slows the skin’s ability to cool itself. Signals include redness and pain; in severe cases, swelling of skin, blisters, fever, and headaches can occur. Ointments can be a relief for pain in mild cases. A physician should see serious cases.
Heat Cramps: Muscular pains and spasms caused by heavy exertion. Loss of water and salt from sweating causes cramping. Signals are abdominal and leg muscle pain. Relief can be firm pressure on cramping muscles, or gentle massages to relieve cramping.
Pets are also in danger from the heat. So much so, Watkins Glen Post Office maintenance worker Kevin Barr is keeping a bowl of water outside the building for pets. Postal worker Melanie Peters explained Barr kept the bowl filled with water for the bigger village events, but this is the first summer it’s been out all the time. The bowl itself is behind a shrub in front of the building where there is a spigot; a sign at the sidewalk points out where it is.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, pets are just as susceptible to dehydration and heat stroke. Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
The ASPCA also warns pet owners to not leave dogs alone near water unless you are sure they can swim. When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. They also recommend a shorter length haircut for pets to lessen the heat.