Finger Lakes experiences brutal heat
NEW YORK STATE--Gov. Andrew Cuomo has cautioned all New Yorkers to be aware of extended periods of dangerous heat and humidity. To avoid heat-related illnesses, the governor is encouraging individuals to limit strenuous outdoor physical activity during these time periods, especially for people who are more susceptible, including young children, the elderly, those who exercise outdoors, those involved in vigorous outdoor work, and those who have respiratory diseases such as asthma. At-risk populations should take necessary steps to stay cool as temperatures rise.
"With a stretch of extreme heat and humidity...I urge residents and visitors to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their families safe," Cuomo said. "I encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of state cooling stations, pools and waterbodies across the empire state and to be mindful of air quality and other health risk factors to ensure a safe, enjoyable holiday weekend."
The National Weather Service forecasted a significant heat wave beginning Friday, June 29 with air quality deterioration possible. The combination of high temperatures and humidity results in heat indices ranging from the mid-90s and up to 104 degrees, especially away from the coast line, in urban areas, and in lower elevations and valleys. Additionally, showers and possible thunderstorms can produce heavy rainfall, resulting in isolated flooding of urban and poor-drainage areas and small streams.
Recently, at the Governor's direction, the Department of Health, in collaboration with the National Weather Service, has lowered the temperature for alerting people to the risk of heat-related illness during hot days and heat waves from 100 degrees to 95 degrees. DOH research, funded by NASA, showed that emergency department visits and hospital admissions from heat increase significantly on days when the heat index reaches 95 degrees or higher. The risk of heat stress, dehydration, renal illness, cardiovascular illness, and death increases for up to four days after a heat wave.
Cooling centers and swimming Locations
Additionally, the New York State Department of Health has created an online list of cooling centers where people can cool down on days of extreme temperatures. A list of addresses and phone numbers for cooling centers shared by local health departments and emergency management offices in each region is available at https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/weather/cooling/#_blank. All pools and beaches across the New York State Park system are also open as an option for individuals to cool off during the hot days.
A complete list of all available swim locations and places to cool off is available http://www.parks.ny.gov/#_blank.
Air quality precautions
The DEC and the DOH are monitoring forecasts and are prepared to issue Air Quality Health Advisories. Summer heat can lead to the formation of ground-level ozone, a major component of photochemical smog. Automobile exhaust and emissions are the primary sources of ground-level ozone and are the most serious air pollution problems in the northeast. This surface pollutant should not be confused with the protective layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere.
All individuals, especially young children, those who exercise outdoors, those involved in vigorous outdoor work, and those who have a respiratory disease such as asthma, should consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity when ozone levels are the highest (generally afternoon to early evening). When outdoor levels of ozone are elevated, going indoors will usually reduce your exposure. Individuals experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing should consider consulting their doctor. Ozone levels generally decrease at night and can be minimized during daylight hours by curtailment of automobile travel and the use of public transportation where available.
Excessive heat is the leading cause of preventable, weather-related deaths each year, particularly among the elderly. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat causes more than 600 preventable deaths in the United States yearly. To help New Yorkers stay safe during excessive heat the governor offered the following tips:
• Slow down on strenuous activity and exercise, especially during the sun's peak hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Exercise should be done in the early morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.
• Eat less protein and more fruits and vegetables. Protein produces and increases metabolic heat, which causes water loss. Eat small meals, but eat more often. Do not eat salty foods.
• Drink at least two to four glasses of water per hour during extreme heat, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
• If possible, stay out of the sun and stay in air conditioning. The sun heats the inner core of your body, resulting in dehydration. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine, or go to a public building with air conditioning.
• If you must go outdoors, wear sunscreen with a high sun protector factor rating (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head. When outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing. Cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn and over-warming effects of sunlight on your body.
• Do not leave children, pets or those who require special care in a parked car or vehicle during periods of intense summer heat. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach over 140 degrees Fahrenheit quickly. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill within a matter of minutes.
• Make an effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are elderly, have young children or have special needs.
• Make sure there is enough food and water for pets.
Swimmers should keep in mind that swimming in lakes, rivers, and streams with water temperatures below 77 degrees can be dangerous and capable of causing hypothermia. Currently, Lake Ontario has reported temperatures near 54 degrees, Lake Erie has water temperatures between 65-70 degrees, and Lake Champlain has water temperatures of 62 degrees.
Boaters should also make sure to take proper safety precautions. The New York State Parks Marine Services Bureau offers the following safety tips.
• Wear a personal floatation device whenever you are on the water. State law requires that children under age 12 wear a personal flotation device while on a watercraft;
• Complete a safe boating course;
• Properly equip and inspect your vessel;
• Maintain a prudent speed;
• Refrain from mixing alcohol with boating; and
• Check the weather forecast before heading out on the water to learn about potential storms and seek immediate shelter on shore if thunder is audible.
People paddling canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards should know their abilities and take precautions when there are high or steady winds creating large waves, or when they are in strong currents. Paddlers in waters where there are motorboats should keep close to shorelines and out of main channels.