SALEM — The City of Salem Health Department is reminding residents of the dangers of extreme heat to their health, noting that extreme temperatures and humidity appear to be continuing, reaching the 90s with an even higher heat index.
“The most important thing is to try to limit your time in a high temperature environment. Try to avoid peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.; that’s when the sun’s rays are strongest. Staying indoors in an air-conditioned environment might be the ideal remedy, if you can.If you don’t have air conditioning, spend a few hours in an air-conditioned public place like a mall, library, or community center. City of Salem Health Commissioner Alanna Stainbrook said.
In case someone can’t get into an air-conditioned environment, she said she should call the Salem Health District at 330-332-1618 and explain her situation.
“We will direct you to a cooling center. If it’s after hours of 9 p.m., call 911 and they will contact the Salem City Health District to return your call,” she says.
At the health board meeting this week, she told the board that a local club had offered their facilities as a cooling center where people can come to take shelter from the heat.
In the press release, she said lingering in high temperatures can lead to various conditions. Among them are heatstroke (or sunburn), heat exhaustion and heat cramps. These conditions develop when the body attempts to cool down after being exposed to heat for a period of time.
“As blood rushes to the surface of your skin, less blood flows to your brain, muscles, and other internal organs that also need blood flow. It could happen to anyone, however, young and old people are more susceptible because their bodies do not lose heat quickly. People whose occupations keep them outdoors for long periods of time are also vulnerable,” she wrote.
If staying outdoors is necessary, she offered these tips:
— Stay hydrated before, during and after any outdoor activity. Sweating can rob your body of precious fluids.
— Stay in shaded areas, such as under a canopy, tent, umbrella, shady tree, etc.
— Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing so that more sunlight is reflected than absorbed. However, dark clothing may provide better UV protection when it comes to protecting the skin. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a wide-brimmed hat can also go a long way in preventing excessive exposure to UVA and UVB rays that promote the formation of skin cancers.
— Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages. These will also cause your body to lose valuable fluids. Stay with water instead.
— Reduce or eliminate strenuous activities until the cooler hours of the day.
— Swimming is a fun way to stay active while staying cool. Look for a community pool if you don’t have one yourself.
— Don’t forget your pets. They need the same consideration as you; Make sure they have a shady place to rest and plenty of water.
Stainbrook said it’s always a good idea to be a good neighbor by watching out for a neighbor, especially if they don’t have air conditioning and/or are elderly. They may appreciate an invitation to enjoy a break from the heat.
“If you come across someone with heat stroke or exhaustion, call 911 or contact a medical provider. Try moving the person indoors or into the shade. Try giving fluids, remove extra clothing and try cooling their bodies with water or ice packs,” she says.
For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control website at CDC.gov/features/extremeheat or contact a physician.