Enjoy the summer heat but be smart about it

I hate weather stories.

Allow me to clarify. I don’t hate the kind of weather stories that involve news reports on floods or tornadoes or bomb cyclone snow storms.

Rather, I hate weather stories that say, basically, “It’s hot!” in the middle of July. Or that say, “It’s really cold and snowing!” in January.

My staff knows well my typical response when someone pitches such a story. It goes like this: “It’s January in northeast Ohio! Of course it’s cold! Is that news? We report NEWS here, people!”

Then after a short rant, I usually end up telling them to go ahead, provided the story includes useful information for readers who might need to be reminded to hydrate in the dead of summer or be cautious shoveling snow in winter.

Yes, somehow we lose our common sense when severe weather strikes, even though most of us have been through the change of Ohio’s seasons many times.

Granted, 2023 has been a little different worldwide. However, despite hot weather this week (it’s July, remember?) I believe the Mahoning Valley has been fortunate because we haven’t seen weather extremes far from the ordinary.

Even a Cleveland National Weather Service meteorologist last week pointed out that while this is the hottest it’s been so far this summer, it’s not “record-breaking.” After all, our area reaches temperatures above 90 seven to eight times per year.

That said, heat — especially near 90 — can be dangerous.

So, here I am, writing about weather.

It’s hot outside! Be careful!

Extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards, Tom Sivak, FEMA Region 5 Regional Administrator in Chicago, said.

So, in case you’ve forgotten, here are some good common sense tips.

Limit your time outdoors and stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as you can. Go to the library or Eastwood Mall. Go see a movie. (Oppenheimer will keep you occupied for more than three hours. And take it from someone who’s seen it, it’s well worth it!)

Fans aren’t the answer. They create air flow and a false sense of comfort, but do not reduce body temperature or prevent heat-related illnesses.

About 40 percent of unwanted heat builds up in our homes through windows. Use awnings and window coverings to keep the heat out. Check weather stripping on doors and windows to keep cool air in.

Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing, along with a hat and sunscreen when outdoors.

Take cool showers or baths.

Check on friends and neighbors and have someone check on you. Older adults, individuals with chronic medical conditions and children are at greater risk from these dangerously high temperatures.

If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately.

AAA East Central Automobile Club urges motorists to never leave children or pets in a hot car.

“A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s and when a child is left in a hot vehicle, the situation could become life-threatening very quickly,” Lynda Lambert, media spokesperson and safety advisor for AAA East Central, said. “As parents, caregivers and bystanders, we all play a role in making sure children and animals are protected from these dangerous conditions.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 900 children have died of heat stroke in the last 25 years after being left or trapped in a vehicle. In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a vehicle can heat up by 20 degrees and become deadly.

Animals are also at risk for heat stroke. Leaving them in a vehicle while running errands, taking a break at a rest stop during a road trip or for any reason, can be deadly. Animals left in hot cars can face irreversible organ damage, heatstroke, brain damage and, in extreme cases, death.

Watch for panting, excessive drooling, vomiting, reddened gums and tongue, rapid heart rate and wobbly, uncoordinated movement.

Do your pets a favor and leave them at home.

Enjoy the summer but please be smart!



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