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Take Precautions to Beat the Heat

 

August 1, 2006

12:00 PM

 

AUGUSTA, MAINE – The National Weather Service is forecasting oppressive heat and humidity for much of Maine over the next two days. The Maine Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross Chapters in Maine are reminding Mainers to take special precautions in dealing with the high temperatures.

"We love the heat in Maine in the summer, but we need to respect it," says Olan Johnston, Red Cross Preparedness Director for Maine. "Drink plenty of water and take breaks to help prevent heat related health problems."

To beat the heat:

  • NEVER leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach over 140 degrees F within minutes. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill in minutes.
  • Air conditioning provides the safest escape from extreme heat. If you have air conditioning at home, you’ll want to use it, but don’t set it higher than you need to in order to be comfortable. That will help save energy, and money on your electric bill.
  • If your home does not have air conditioning, stay indoors as much as possible, on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Keep heat outside and cool air inside, closing any doors or windows that may allow heat in. Or you may want to go to a shopping center or other location that does have air conditioning.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly or those with disabilities, who do not have air conditioning or who spend much of their time alone.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing that will cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body temperature. Cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn and over-warming effects of sunlight on your body. Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, which will keep direct sunlight off your head and face. Sunlight can burn and warm the inner core of your body.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Dehydration can happen quickly and unnoticed. Symptoms of dehydration are often confused with other causes. Your body needs water to keep cool. Water is the safest liquid to drink in hot weather.
  • Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat's effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which actually dehydrates the body. People who are on fluid-restrictive diets; or who have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities. Get plenty of rest to allow your natural "cooling system" to work. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat. Partners can keep an eye on each other and can assist each other when needed.
“Stay safe in the heat, and enjoy the summer,” Johnston said.

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Last update: 07/20/10