Summer officially started Monday, and Mother Nature isn’t shy about letting county residents feel the burn. With temperatures around 100 degrees this week, there is no question: It’s hot.
Excessive heat can be dangerous as well as uncomfortable.
“Seems like people can’t do without air conditioning anymore,” Merle Flaming of Flaming’s Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning said. “They want it to be cool as soon as they walk in the door and they want it done yesterday.”
Flaming said home units should be cleaned by a licensed professional once every one or two years to promote optimum cooling efficiency.
“Running a dirty unit with cotton fuzz and dirt in it makes it more prone to not cooling as well,” he said. “Most AC units are designed around 95 degrees, and when it starts kicking around 100 degrees, that can stress the system as it peaks the max demand. Older systems may not be able to keep up. They can break anytime.”
Gayla Ratzlaff, coordinator for the county Department on Aging, said certain health issues should be aware how their medications can affect their resistance to heat.
“Health issues can put you at a greater risk for not being able to handle the heat,” Ratzlaff said. “Some medications can act as diuretics. Some can make you more susceptible to sunburn. Some sedatives, tranquilizers, and heart and high blood pressure medicines can make it harder for your body to cool itself by sweating.”
She advised checking with a doctor or pharmacist about issues that can come up, especially with new medications.
People with a chronic medical conditions are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature, and some medications may worsen the impact of extreme heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Diedre Serene, director of the county Health Department, said she hadn’t heard of any heat related issues yet. However, she said it was wise for residents to educate themselves on summer safety.
She recommended searching the CDC’s website tips.
The CDC suggests staying in air-conditioned environments as much as possible and avoiding direct sunlight, and fans are not recommended as primary cooling device.
Lightweight, light-colored clothing, and cool baths or showers are recommended, too.
It recommends drinking more water than usual and not waiting until feeling thirsty to replenish fluids.
Drinking two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside is advised. Alcoholic beverages and drinks containing high amounts of sugar should be avoided.
Heavy sweating, weakness, a fast or weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, fainting, or cold, pale and clammy skin are symptoms of heat exhaustion.
If affected by the heat, lie down in a cool location, sip water, loosen clothing, apply wet, cool cloths, and seek medical attention.
Heat stroke symptoms include high body temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, hot, red, dry or moist skin, a rapid strong pulse, and possible unconsciousness.
Fluids should not be given, and 911 should be called immediately. A person suffering from heat stroke should be moved to a cooler location, and body temperature should be reduced with cool cloths or a bath.
The CDC also advises that infants, children, and pets should never be left in a parked car even if the windows are open.