Heat wave rolls in

Red Cross offers tips to stay cool

Tribune Chronicle / Beth Shiller Leo Buratti, 7, of Howland, has a blast at the North Side Pool in Youngstown with his father, Kyle Buratti, on Thursday. This was Leo’s first time at the pool, which was packed because of the high temperatures. An excessive heat warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for today and Saturday.

WARREN — With the National Weather Service in Cleveland issuing an excessive heat warning as temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to upper-90s today and Saturday, local organizations are offering advice on how to stay cool.

Melissa Papini, disaster program manager with the American Red Cross Lake to River Chapter, said the office has received a few calls from residents asking where local cooling locations are.

“We are recommending people check our website for information on how to stay cool and safe when it gets very hot outside,” Papini said.

Papini said the Red Cross cooperates with local government agencies to respond to community needs.

“If an excessive heat emergency is declared by local emergency management, the Red Cross will work with all responsive agencies to be part of the community-wide solution,” she said.

Papini said the Red Cross encourages all residents to take precautions that include:

• Listening to local weather forecasts and staying aware of upcoming temperature changes and the heat index.

• Discussing heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time — home, work or school — and prepare for power outages.

• Checking the contents of your emergency disaster kit in case a power outage occurs.

• Knowing those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.

• Choosing places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (libraries, theaters, malls, etc.).

• Being aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.

• Ensuring your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.

Papini said during a heat wave, residents are encouraged to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if they do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Children and pets should never be left alone in enclosed vehicles.

Other recommendations are:

• Wearing 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 you must work outdoors.

• 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.

• Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

Although today’s temperatures are expected to be in the lower-90s, WKBN 27 meteorologist Paul Wetzl said we are unlikely to break a record, which was 98 set in 1942. He said the record is more likely to be broken — or at least tied — on Saturday when the temperature is expected to be 95, which also was the record in 1991. Lows are expected to be in the mid-70s both days.

Wetzl said the heat index today is expected to be between 100 and 105 degrees, while Saturday’s heat index could reach up to 110 degrees. He said the heat index is a combination of humidity with actual air temperature and when the heat index is high, the body cannot evaporate sweat, so it makes it feels hotter.

Wetzl said another contributing factor to this weekend’s high heat index is the dew point, which is a measure of humidity. He said the dew point will be in the 70s all weekend and the closer the dew point is to the actual temperature, the more humid it feels.

“That is why it may feel more humid in the morning because a dew point in the 70s is closer to the morning air temperature. When the temperature rises to the mid-90s, those numbers are further apart, making it feel less sticky,” Wetzl said.

He said nice weather returns next week, with lower temperatures and lower humidity.

“We just have to get through this extremely hot weekend,” Wetzl said.

The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke are similar, according to the Center for Disease Control. Signs of heat exhaution include fatigue, nausea, headache, excessive thirst, muscle aches and cramps, weakness, confusion or anxiety, drenching sweat (often accompanied by cold, clammy skin or a sensation of prickly skin) slowed or weakened heartbeat, dizziness, fainting and agitation.

Signs of heat stroke include vomiting; hot, flushed, dry skin; rapid heart rate; profound sweating; shortness of breath; decreased urination; blood in urine or stool; increased body temperature (104 to 106 degrees); confusion; delirium or loss of consciousness; and convulsions.

According to the CDC, more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat each year.

The Red Cross said people more at risk of developing a heat-related illness are adults age 65 and older, those with chronic medical conditions — especially those with breathing problems — people who work outside, infants and children, and athletes.