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As temperatures creep higher, remember to keep safe

SALISBURY — The first day of summer is Thursday, and the season is already shaping up to be a doozy.

Temperatures on Monday crept into the mid-90s in a trend that’s expected to continue throughout the week.

Today’s high is forecast to be 97; Wednesday’s is 96 and Thursday’s, 95. Heat indexes for the week range from 100 to 105, with Code Orange air quality days through Wednesday.

Code Orange means air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups: children, active adults, and people with heart and respiratory disease. These alerts are in effect from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

In light of sweltering temperatures, local officials and service agencies are offering advice and assistance to help people stay cool and safe.

“It’s important to realize that warm weather can be dangerous,” said Sheila Crunkleton, executive director of the American Red Cross Southern Piedmont Chapter. “Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness and extreme fatigue.

Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin that may be dry or moist, changes in consciousness, vomiting and high body temperature.

Those especially at risk of developing a heat-related illness are adults 65 and older, those with chronic medical conditions, those who work outside, infants, children and athletes.

Advice for all

• Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.

• Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

• Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

• If living without air conditioning, seek relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day in places like schools, libraries, theaters, malls, etc.

• Avoid extreme temperature changes.

• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.

• Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

• Postpone outdoor games and activities.

• Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.

Advice for the elderly

• Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. Don’t rely on fans as the only cooling source during times of extreme heat.

• Stay well-hydrated by drinking water or sports drinks.  Avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol, and don’t wait until feeling thirsty before beginning hydration.

• Limit using the stove or oven to cook during times of extreme heat.

• Take cool showers or baths to cool down.

• Limit strenuous outdoor activities and get plenty of rest.

Advice for owners of livestock and pets

• Check on animals frequently to ensure they are not suffering from the heat. Signs of overheating include panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or collapse.

• Make sure animals have plenty of fresh, cool water.

• Provide adequate shelter.

• Avoid handling livestock in extreme heat, as movement and handling can cause production losses. If necessary, handle and move animals as early or late in the day as possible, when temperatures are lower.

• Avoid transporting livestock. If necessary, transport animals only during the cool hours of the day, with stocking densities reduced to 85 percent of capacity to ensure good air flow between animals.

• Avoid walking pets over asphalt as this can lead to burnt paws and accelerated escalation of body temperature.

• Never shave dogs: the layers of their coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Longer-haired dogs may be trimmed.

• Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly screwed to prevent pets from falling.

• Do not leave animals unsupervised around a pool to avoid drowning or ingestion of pool chemicals.

• Remember animals with flat faces, like pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke along with those that are older, overweight or those with heart or lung diseases. These animals should be kept in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

For the homeless, the Rowan Helping Ministries’ Robertson-Stanback Center Shelter, located at 217 N. Long St., is open 24-hours.

The ministry also offers showers at the Ralph W. Ketner Center Crisis Assistance Center at 226 N. Long St. Monday through Friday for those in need.

“We also help to pay electric bills,” said Executive Director Kyna Grubb. “We’re doing a lot to help people stay cool by keeping their power on and their air condition running.”

Rowan Helping Ministries also assists with air conditioning units and fans in the event of crises. For more information, call 704-637-6838.

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