Heat Safety Tips from Local Health Officials

With scorchers in the forecast for the next few days if you can't beat the heat, you might as well stay safe.

With a heat wave in the forecast and temperatures expected to reach the upper 90s over the next few days, local officials are taking precautions to help Lexington residents avoid heat-related emergencies.

Town swimming facilities will be open extended hours through Friday, June 22. The will be open from 12 to 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, Thursday, June 21 and Friday, June 22. The will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on those same days.

Additionally, the Board of Health has issued a number of health precautions, including old standards like drinking plenty of fluids, wearing light-colored clothing and avoiding direct sunlight in the middle of the day.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook and Heat Advisory for areas including Lexington, to take effect after noontime today, associated with forecasts predicting temperatures in the upper 90s, with heat index values as high as 103.

“A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected,” the NWS advisory says. “The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible.”

The NWS communications suggest avoiding working in the sun or in poorly ventilated spaces, remaining in air-conditioned areas as much as possible and checking on relatives and neighbors.

According to the NWS forecast, today should be mostly sunny, with a high near 97 and a heat index of upwards of 105.

Regarding local information for avoiding heat-related illness, the Board of Health and Public Health Director Gerard Cody provided the following information:

Over the next few days, the air temperatures may stay in the upper 90s.By following these Precautions, you may avoid a heat related emergency:

Drink Plenty of Fluids

During hot weather you will need to increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. (Note: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.) Popsicles, watermelon, cantaloupe, fruit salads and jello all contain a lot of water. And summertime is the perfect time to indulge in such treats. Avoid caffeine and alcohol whenever possible.

Wear Appropriate Clothing and Sunscreen

Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Use a sunscreen product rated at least SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 15 and apply it liberally to all exposed skin at least 30-60 minutes before going out into the sun.

Stay Cool Indoors

Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library - even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

Monitor Those at High Risk

Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.

  • Infants and children up to four years of age are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.
  • People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and respond to change in temperature.
  • People who are overweight may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat.

Heat Illness Questions and Answers

What are heat cramps?

Heat Cramps occur after vigorous activities like running or playing tennis. Their signs are painful abdominal spasms and cramps in major muscles such as the legs and abdomen. Cramps subside with rest, cooling down and plenty of water.

What is Heat Exhaustion?

Heat Exhaustion has many symptoms-fever, heavy sweating, fainting, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, clammy skin, ashen skin tone and nausea. Overexertion and not drinking enough water is the usual cause. To treat it, go indoors with a fan or air conditioning or to a shady spot, apply cool clothes, immediately lie down with your legs elevated, loosen tight clothes, and drink cool water or sports beverages.

What is Heat Stroke?

Heat Stroke (Sunstroke) can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical help. The symptoms include not only those associated with heat exhaustion, but also very rapid pulse and breathing, delirium, unconsciousness, and lack of perspiration to cool the body.

Remember, to prevent a heat illness:

  • Avoid direct sun from late morning until 4pm
  • Limit vigorous exercise or chores to early morning or late afternoon
  • Dress in light colored, loose-fitting clothes
  • Continually drink plenty of water or juice
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol
  • Eat light meals

For More Information: Please contact the Office of Community Development, Health Division, Gerard Cody, Health Director at 781-862-0500 x 237 or gcody@lexingtonma.gov.


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