The National Weather Service forecast calls for temperatures to rise, so the Westchester County Health Department is issuing a heat advisory. As temperatures rise, residents should avoid strenuous activity, drink lots of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine and seek air-conditioned spaces to avoid heat-related illness.
Heat stroke is a serious and life-threatening condition that claims many lives nationwide each year. Symptoms include hot, 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 take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency help to arrive.
Emergency Phone Numbers
These phone numbers may be helpful in the case of a power outage or other emergency.
Stay Cool Locations (Cooling Centers)
Please check with your local municipality to find out if they are opening temporary cooling centers on hot days.
The White Plains Public Library is open until 9:00 p.m.
"Heat stroke and dehydration can take you by surprise," said Sherlita Amler, MD, Westchester County commissioner of health. "The elderly, young children and those with high blood pressure, heart disease, or lung conditions need to be especially careful to avoid heat-related illnesses. High humidity and some medications can also increase a person's risk for heat stroke," she added.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and exhaustion, but body temperature remains normal. To assist someone with these symptoms, provide cool non-caffeinated beverages and encourage them to cool off. This condition is not life-threatening.
The Health Department recommends the following preventive measures against heat-related illnesses:
- NEVER leave children, pets or those who need special care in a parked vehicle. Temperatures inside a closed car can quickly soar to more than 140 degrees inside and this can be life-threatening.
- Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly, the very young and those with special needs.
- Assure pets have enough water and food and limit their exercise during high temperature times.
- Drink at least two to four glasses of water per hour during extreme heat, even if you aren't thirsty.
- Avoid beverages that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar - these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
- Stay indoors, ideally, in an air-conditioned place. If your house or apartment isn't air-conditioned, try spending a few hours at a shopping mall, public library or even the grocery store. A few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back to a warmer place.
- Some municipalities open or extend hours at some public buildings to create cooling centers. Check with your local city, town or village for the latest updates.
- If you must go outdoors, wear sunscreen with a high sun protection factor of at least 15 and a hat to protect your face and head. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
- Try to avoid the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when it is strongest.
Elevated heat and humidity can also lead to unhealthy ozone levels. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation forecasts daily ozone conditions on its Web site for the New York Metropolitan area, which includes Westchester County. Air quality updates are also provided daily on the New York State Air Quality Hotline at (800) 535-1345.
Ozone is a gas produced by the action of sunlight on organic air contaminants from automobile exhausts and other sources. Significant exposure to ozone in the air has been linked with adverse health effects. These may include nose and throat irritation, respiratory symptoms, and decreases in lung function.
People experiencing such symptoms should speak with a health care 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.
For more information and tips for safety during hot weather, visit the Health Department at www.westchestergov.com/health, like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/wchealthdept or follow us on Twitter at wchealthdept.