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Heat and Air Quality Advisory Until Wednesday

July 26, 2005

The Westchester County Health Department is issuing a heat advisory for the county July 26 & 27, 2005. An air quality advisory is also being issued for today following the US Environmental Protection Agency’s report of moderate levels of particulate matter in the metropolitan area.

Residents are advised to take precautions against heat-related illnesses. Those with unusual sensitivity to air quality are advised to reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.

“We are in for a couple of days of high temperatures and humidity and it is hoped that residents will take things easy and avoid doing anything too strenuous in this heat,” said Joshua Lipsman, M.D., M.P.H., Commissioner of Health for Westchester County. “Heat stroke and dehydration can take you by surprise. Those with heart or lung conditions or high blood pressure need to be especially careful to avoid heat-related illnesses.”

Heat stroke is a serious and life-threatening condition that claims many lives throughout the country each year. Symptoms include hot, dry skin; shallow breathing; a rapid, weak pulse; and confusion. Heat stroke occurs when a person's body temperature exceeds 105 degrees Fahrenheit and it can render the victim unconscious. Anyone suffering from heat stroke needs to receive emergency medical treatment immediately. While waiting for emergency personnel, the patient should be moved to a cool area out of direct sunlight and bathed with cool water. If possible, they should be placed in an air-conditioned room or even an air conditioned car.

The Health Department recommends these preventive measures to prevent heat-related illnesses:

• Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.

• Don't drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar - these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

• Stay indoors, ideally, in an air-conditioned place. If your house or apartment isn't air-conditioned, try spending a few hours at the shopping mall, public library or even the grocery store. A few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

• Take a cool shower or bath and reduce or eliminate strenuous activities during the hottest time of the day.

• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.

• Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.

• NEVER leave anyone - a person or animal - in a closed, parked vehicle. This is life threatening.

• Neighbors should check on elderly residents in their area or apartment complex to make sure they are safe.

“Those who are sensitive to fine particles in the air, such as young children, the elderly and people with breathing and heart problems, may wish to limit strenuous outdoor activity when levels of particulate matter are elevated,” said Dr. Lipsman.

Exposure to fine particles in the air can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Long-tern exposure can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.

For more information and tips of safety during hot weather, residents should visit the Health Department website at www.westchestergov.com/health or call the Health Department’s Stay Cool line at (914) 813-5620.



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