Local officials today urged residents to pay attention to heat advisories and warnings and take steps to protect themselves, their families and their pets. The National Weather Service (NWS) issues two kinds of heat alerts:
· A heat advisory means that a period of hot conditions (heat index from 100 to 104 degrees) is expected. The hot environment will create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible.
· An excessive heat warning means that a prolonged period of dangerously hot temperatures (heat index of 105 degrees or above) will create life-threatening conditions. The heat and high humidity create a dangerous situation that can cause heat illnesses.
The heat index is a more accurate measure of how hot it really feels when the humidity is added to the actual air temperature. Information is available on local weather, the heat index and safety precautions at the NWS Web site at weather.gov.
When a heat warning is issued, the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department is prepared to extend evening hours and/or weekend hours at the Belmont Community Center, 1234 Judson, and the "F" Street Community Center, 1225 "F" Street. Those without air conditioning also can cool off during regular hours at libraries, senior centers and other recreation centers as well as other public locations such as theaters and shopping malls. Parks and Recreation also offers family swim nights at neighborhood pools from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday with a fee of just $8 for the whole family. Information on regular and extended hours at City facilities is available at lincoln.ne.gov.
Health officials say children are more at risk from high temperatures because they adjust more slowly to the heat, have thinner skin, produce more heat with activity, sweat less and are less likely to rest or get a drink when they are active. Others at risk include the elderly, those with chronic diseases, those who are overweight and those using certain medications or alcohol.
Both air temperature and humidity affect the body's ability to cool itself during hot weather. Heat stress occurs when sweating isn't enough to cool the body, causing a person's body temperature to rise rapidly. Heat stress symptoms include clammy, sweaty skin; light-headedness; weakness; and nausea. Heat-related illnesses include sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and the most severe form requires immediate medical attention. More health information can be found at the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov.
Hot weather precautions include the following:
· Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids, especially during physical activity.
· Avoid heavy meals and hot foods, which add heat to your body.
· Monitor infants for fluid intake, and dress them in cool, loose-fitting clothing.
· Check on relatives, neighbors and friends who may be at risk.
· Never leave children or pets in parked cars. Even with the windows open, temperatures can reach 130 degrees in only a few minutes. Place your cell phone, purse or left shoe in the backseat as a reminder that you have a child in the car.
· Make sure pets and livestock that live outdoors have plenty of fresh, cool water and shade. Pets should be brought indoors if possible.
Those who do need to be outside are advised to wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, sunglasses, sunscreen (SPF of 30 or more) and a hat. Plan activities to avoid being outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Rest frequently in shaded areas, and stay hydrated. Stop activity and get into a cool area if you become lightheaded, confused, weak or faint. Extreme heat can be a concern to healthy people as well, including children participating in outdoor activities such as summer camps and athletic events and practices.
More information on protecting pets including the video "Too Hot for Spot" is available by visiting lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: Animal Control). Animal Control can be reached at 402-441-7900.