Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to take precautions as excessive heat and high temperatures are being predicted throughout New York State.
As the temperature rises, I urge New Yorkers to take proper precautions to stay safe while enjoying the summer, Governor Cuomo said. The weather forecast for the next few days predicts temperatures to reach the 90s, and New Yorkers should be aware of the potentially life-threatening dangers of excessive heat, and take action to protect themselves and their loved ones.
With the temperatures forecast to climb into the 90s over the next few days, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) offer New Yorkers tips to help them stay safe.
Excessive heat is the leading cause of preventable, weather-related deaths each year, particularly among the elderly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heat causes more than 650 preventable deaths in the United States each year with 7,233 heat-related deaths reported from 19992009. In most years, excessive heat causes more deaths than floods, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Weather Service statistics, over the last three years in New York State, there have been a total of 31 deaths directly attributable to heat.
"The combination of excessive heat and humidity could result in dangerous health conditions across New York and create life-threatening situations, especially for older individuals, infants and young children, and people participating in outdoor activities," State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. said. "It is important that all New Yorkers be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, take appropriate precautions, and know what to do if they or someone they encounter is experiencing health issues due to extreme heat.
There are simple precautions that can be taken to stay cool during heat waves such as drinking plenty of fluids, wearing light-colored clothing and remaining in an air-conditioned environment, DHSES Commissioner Jerome M. Hauer said. It is also important to check on your loved ones and neighbors, especially those who might be at risk.
To help New Yorkers stay safe during excessive heat, DOH and DHSES offer this advice:
- Minimize, if possible, strenuous activity and exercise, especially during the sun's peak hours 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Exercise during early morning hours or in the evening, when the temperatures tend to be lower.
- Drink at least 2-4 glasses of water per hour during extreme heat, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
- If possible, stay out of the sun and seek air-conditioned settings. The sun heats the inner core of your body, which may result in dehydration. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine, or go to a building with air conditioning (such as libraries, malls, supermarkets, or friends homes).
- If you must go outdoors, wear sunscreen with a high sun protector factor (SPF) rating of at least 15 and a hat to protect your face and head. When outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing. Cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn and over-warming effects of sunlight on your body.
- Never leave children, pets or those who require special care in a parked car or other vehicles during periods of intense summer heat. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach over 140 degrees Fahrenheit quickly. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill within a matter of minutes.
- Make an effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially the elderly, infants and young children, or others with special needs.
- Make sure there is enough water and food for pets and limit their exercise during periods of extreme temperatures.
PEOPLE WHO ARE AT THE GREATEST RISK
- Elderly persons, infants and small children. Persons with weight or alcohol problems. Persons on certain medications or drugs.
HEAT HEALTH HAZARDS
Heat Stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke can be life threatening. Body temperature can rise and cause brain damage; death may result if the individual is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red, and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse, and shallow breathing. A cold bath or sponge can provide relief and lower body temperature.
Heat Exhaustion: While less dangerous than heat stroke, heat exhaustion poses health concerns and it most often occurs when people exercise too heavily or work in warm, humid places where body fluids are lost. Signals include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness and exhaustion. If symptoms occur, move the victim out of sun, and apply cool, wet cloths.
Sunburn: Sunburn slows the skin's ability to cool itself. Signals include redness and pain; in severe cases, swelling of skin, blisters, fever, and headaches can occur. Ointments can be a relief for pain in mild cases. A physician should see serious cases. To protect yourself, wear sunscreen with a high sun protector factor rating (SPF) of at least 15. Always re-apply sunscreen after periods of heavy sweating or swimming.
Heat Cramps: Muscular pains and spasms are often caused by heavy exertion. Loss of water and salt from sweating causes cramping. Signals are abdominal and leg muscle pain. Relief can be firm pressure on cramping muscles, or gentle massages to relieve cramping. Remember to hydrate often while exercising or working outdoors.
Heat Rash: Skin irritation that looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters. Try to move the person to a cool place, keep the affected area dry, and have the person use talcum powder to increase comfort.
BE ENERGY SMART
- Power outages are more likely to occur during warm weather, when utility usage is at its peak. To avoid putting a strain on the power grid, conserve energy to help prevent power disruptions.
- Set your air conditioner thermostat no lower than 78 degrees.
- Only use the air conditioner when you are home.
- Turn non-essential appliances off. Only use appliances that have heavy electrical loads early in the morning or very late at night.
For more information, visit: http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/weather/hot, or http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/publicsafety/heataware.cfm