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June 18, 2018 -- With high humidity and temperatures forecasted to exceed 90 degrees in the County today and tomorrow, the Westchester County Health Department is issuing a heat advisory. As humidity and temperatures rise, residents should avoid strenuous activity, drink lots of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and take precautions to prevent heat-related illness.

“Pace yourself -- don’t overdo it in the heat,” said County Executive George Latimer. “If you spend a lot of time outdoors, take breaks in an air-conditioned place and drink lots of water. And during a heat wave, remember to check in on your elderly or ailing neighbors.”

Sherlita Amler, MD, Westchester County Commissioner of Health, said people who are most vulnerable to adverse effects from the heat include the very young, seniors, people who are obese and those with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or lung conditions.

“Heat stroke and dehydration can take you by surprise,” Amler said. “High humidity, chronic health conditions and some medications can also increase a person’s risk for heat stroke.”

Heat stroke is a serious and life-threatening condition that claims many lives nationwide each year. Symptoms include hot red, dry skin, shallow breathing, a rapid, weak pulse, and confusion. Anyone suffering from heat stroke needs to receive emergency medical treatment immediately. Call 911 if you suspect heat stroke and immediately cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency help to arrive.

“To avoid tragedy, it’s also vital to never leave infants, children, seniors or pets in a closed car no matter how brief the time,” she said. “Closed vehicles can quickly heat up to a life-threatening 140º F or more.”

Another concern during a heat wave is heat exhaustion. Seniors, children up to age four, people who are overweight or who have high blood pressure and those who work in hot environments are most at risk. Signs include headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and exhaustion, as well as cool, moist, pale or flushed skin. People suffering from heat exhaustion should be moved out of the sun and have cool, wet cloths applied to their skin.

Take these precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses:

 

  • If you exercise or work outdoors during extreme heat, drink lots of water and take frequent breaks.

  • Limit strenuous from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and use a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugary drinks, which cause you to lose more body fluid.

  • Take a cool shower or bath.

  • NEVER leave people or pets in a closed, parked vehicle.

  •  Check on elderly or ill neighbors to make sure they are safe. 

  • Bring pets inside and be sure to provide them with plenty of water.

  • Stay indoors, ideally in an air-conditioned place.

  • If your house or apartment isn't air-conditioned, spend a few hours in an air-conditioned shopping mall, public library, movie theater or supermarket. Call ahead to verify the hours of a library or senior center near you where you can cool off. For contact information, go to http://health.westchestergov.com/stay-safe-in-the-sun.

  •  Check with your municipality for the latest availability, hours and locations of cooling centers.

  • For Mount Vernon, go to www.cmvny.com
  • For New Rochelle, go to www.newrochelleny.com
  • For Port Chester, go to www.portchesterny.com
  • For Peekskill, go to www.cityofpeekskill.com
  • For Rye Town, go to www.townofrye.com
  • For Yonkers, go to www.yonkersny.gov/keepcool
  • For Ossining Village, go to www.villageofossining.org

               

Elevated heat and humidity can also lead to unhealthy levels of ozone, a gas produced by the action of sunlight on organic air contaminants from auto exhaust and other sources.  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation forecasts daily ozone conditions at (http://www.dec.ny.gov), or call the New York State Air Quality Hotline at 1-800-535-1345.

Significant exposure to ozone has been linked with adverse health effects, such as nose and throat irritation, respiratory symptoms and decreased lung function. People who experience these symptoms should speak with a healthcare provider. Those who may be especially sensitive to the effects of ozone exposure include the very young, those who exercise outdoors or are involved in strenuous outdoor work and those with pre-existing respiratory problems such as asthma. When ozone levels are elevated, the Westchester County Department of Health recommends limiting strenuous physical activity outdoors to reduce the risk of adverse effects.