Bethlehem Press

Monday, January 27, 2020

Pennsylvanians need to heed heat warnings

Monday, July 22, 2019 by The Press in Local News

The Wolf Administration is urging all Pennsylvanians to take steps to keep themselves and their loved ones, including pets, safe from potentially deadly heat-related illnesses. Infants and children, older adults, and people suffering from illness may be less able to respond to extreme temperatures and taking certain medications can affect how one’s body responds to heat.

All Pennsylvanians are urged to follow these safety tips to avoid heat-related illnesses:

• Drink plenty of water and do not wait until you are thirsty to drink more fluids;

• Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar, as they can cause dehydration (loss of body fluids);

• Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible – this is the best way to protect against heat-related illness and death;

• Avoid long periods in the direct sun or in unventilated rooms;

• If you must be outside in the heat, reschedule activities for cooler times of the day, and try to rest often in shady areas;

• Dress in light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses – and use a sunscreen of SPF15 or higher;

• Take frequent baths or showers and remain in a cool place;

• Check on those who might be more at risk from high temperatures like infants, children, or older individuals; and

• Never leave your children or pets inside vehicles.

Pennsylvania’s network of Area Agencies on Aging is a great resource for seniors or their caregivers to find senior centers acting as cooling centers if needed and and offer tips on staying safe and comfortable during this heat wave.

“Extreme heat poses a danger to all Pennsylvanians, and we urge everyone to be aware of the potential for heat-related illnesses,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are both serious, and potentially life-threatening illnesses that can occur very quickly when high temperatures occur.”

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission provided a “Summer Heat Wave” fact sheet to provide tips on conserving energy and ensuring a cool, comfortable dwelling:

• Turn off non-essential appliances and as many lights as possible.

• Postpone using appliances that produce heat, such as clothes dryers, dishwashers and stoves until after 7 p.m. These appliances also use significant amounts of electricity adding to the demand on an electric infrastructure that is already stressed during peak hours due to heat.

• Use ceiling fans to circulate the air, keeping rooms and you cooler.

• Close curtains or window blinds to block sunlight and heat or relax in rooms that do not receive direct sunlight.

• If you have window air conditioning units, close off rooms not in use.

• Make sure all air conditioner filters are clean and in good shape.

• Replace filters monthly for maximum benefit and check air and return vents on a regular basis to keep circulation air paths clear.

• On hot and humid days, set your thermostat at 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees or off when you are away for long periods.