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Hot, humid, unhealthy!
The combination of heat and humidity has resulted in a code orage alert and a warning from the health department.

August 1, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


RECORD HEAT AND HIGH HUMIDITY COMBINE TO POSE DANGER TO AREA RESIDENTS

Charlotte, NC – Record high temperatures coupled with extreme humidity levels have prompted City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County officials to remind residents of the dangers of prolonged exposure to the heat.

Temperatures are expected to continue in the mid to upper 90s through the balance of the work week. The Mecklenburg County Health Department wants to make sure all residents are safe from the potentially harmful effects of the sun and hot temperatures.

Although the elderly and very young children are at greatest risk of suffering a heat related illness, ANYONE can be affected. Spending too much time in the sun or staying too long in an overheated environment can cause harm. Even short periods of exposure to high temperatures can lead to serious health problems.

If you or anyone in your family feels they are becoming ill from exposure to the high heat, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY! For general information including questions about Charlotte and Mecklenburg County services related to the heat or any topic, call 311, the 24-hour City/County information line.

Staying comfortable should be a priority during this weather. If you need a place to escape the elements, there are several options to cool down.

· Go read a book or a magazine. Branch libraries are located across the county and offer a cool, air-conditioned environment.
· Head to the mall. Major malls are open in many areas of the city and county and most are open until at least 9 p.m.
· Visit a local recreation center. Many Mecklenburg County parks have recreation centers where residents can go to take a break from the heat.
· Go to any public location that is air conditioned, even if you can only be there long enough to cool your body temperature.
Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department wants you to have some important tips to help keep you or someone you love from becoming a victim of heat related illness:

· Check on the elderly and do it frequently. Ensure that those 65 years of age and older are cool and safe from exposure to high temperatures. They are less likely to sense and respond to temperature changes and those on certain medications or with chronic illnesses are most vulnerable.
· If you cannot be in an air conditioned environment, keep air circulating with fans and adjust blinds and window shades to reduce heat from the sun. Shut off all non-essential lights and appliances. Electric fans can provide some comfort, but with temperatures in the mid-90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a better way to cool off.
· Never leave a child or pet unattended in a car during hot weather, even with the windows open. Temperatures can reach lethal levels within minutes.
· Drink plenty of water (at least 8-10 glasses a day, more if you are working or exercising in a hot environment) to maintain good hydration. Carry water or juice with you and drink often, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
· Do NOT drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar. These can actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
· When entering a vehicle, protect children from hot parts such as seat belts and metal clips.
· Carry a towel to place under children from protection from burns.
· Wear loose fitting, light colored clothing. If you must be outdoors, be sure to apply sunscreen. In addition to very real concerns about skin cancer, sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluid.
· Make sure to keep your activity to a minimum during the hottest part of the day.

Anyone can suffer from heat related illness. It happens when your body is unable to compensate and properly cool itself. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. When this occurs, the temperature of the body rises rapidly and heat-related illness may develop.

Heat related illness falls into three categories:

· Heat cramps are muscle cramps that usually begin in the legs and abdomen, often following strenuous exercise.
· Heat exhaustion is more serious. It can develop after prolonged exposure to high temperatures and inadequate fluid replacement. The warning signs include elevated body temperature; heavy sweating; excessive thirst; dizziness and nausea; vomiting and diarrhea; even fainting.
· Heat stroke is the most serious heat related illness. Symptoms include high body temperature (106 degrees F or higher), red, hot and dry skin with no sweating, rapid pulse, confusion, unconsciousness, and even death.

For more information on keeping your family safe from exposure to heat and sun, visit the Web site www.meckhealth.org.

 




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