County Officials Urge Caution During Hot Weather

June 14, 2024

The forecast from the National Weather Service-Buffalo Office shows excessive heat and humidity building early next week, with temperatures expected to be in the 90s during the day and overnight lows in the 70s.

“We encourage people to limit their activities and prepare for the potential for high heat,” Oswego County Emergency Management Director Cathleen Palmitesso said. “The combination of hot weather and high humidity can cause heat-related illnesses to set in, which could lead to death.”

Oswego County Public Health Director Vera Dunsmoor agreed, adding, “People should be aware of the warning signs of heat-related illness and take special care of individuals at risk. Air conditioning is the best way to prevent heat-related illness. If a home is not air conditioned, people can spend time in public facilities that are.”

The New York State Department of Health maintains a list of facilities where people can go to cool off during extreme heat. Find the list at https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/weather/cooling/.

Those who are at highest risk of heat-related illness include people aged 65 years and older, children younger than two years of age, and people who are pregnant, have chronic diseases or mental illness.

“Seniors are especially vulnerable to heat-related illnesses,” said Oswego County Office for the Aging Director Sara Sunday. “They are more likely to have chronic health issues and may take medication that prevents their bodies from regulating their temperatures. They may also have other risk factors, such as living alone or not having air conditioning in their home.

“To avoid heat stress, it’s vital that seniors take precautions,” Sunday continued. “They should follow their doctor’s guidance to hydrate properly and stay indoors – ideally with air conditioning – during the hottest part of the day. Wearing lightweight clothing and avoiding strenuous activities will also help.”

People should make sure to connect with family members, friends and neighbors and remind them to take protective actions during extreme heat events.

Palmitesso, Dunsmoor and Sunday offered the following tips for preparedness during high-heat events:

  • Stay hydrated. Whether you feel thirsty or not, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, especially when you’re working or exercising outside.
  • Try to avoid liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar. These actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks as they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Take a cool shower or bath to cool down.
  • Take it easy. Anyone working or exercising outdoors should avoid over-exertion, especially between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Take hourly breaks in the shade or in air conditioning.
  • Stay indoors and, if possible, in an air-conditioned place. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Act quickly when a heat illness is suspected. Seek medical attention immediately for any of these warning signs: cramping, rapid pulse, heavy sweating, hot red skin, dizziness, confusion, nausea and vomiting.
  • Remember your pets can be vulnerable to heat too. Make sure they have shade, plenty of water and never leave them in a parked vehicle – even with a window open.

“Never leave anyone in a vehicle in hot weather – whether it’s a pet, a child or an older family member,” Dunsmoor said. “In just 10 minutes, a car can heat up and become deadly.

“Everyone should be aware of the warning signs of heat-related illness and take special care of those most at-risk,” she continued. “People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies cannot cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. When humidity levels are high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat in a timely way.”

Palmitesso concluded, “Summer is a great time to be outside and enjoy outdoor activities, but high heat can put a damper on your fun. Make sure you’re prepared and take precautions to keep yourself and your family safe.”

For more information about high heat, reach out to the Oswego County Emergency Management Office at 315-591-9150 or www.oswegocounty.com/emo, or the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3450 or www.health.oswegocounty.com. To learn how to help seniors cope, contact the Oswego County Office for the Aging at 315-349-3484 or www.oswegocounty.com/ofa.