More heat on the way

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 23, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Suffolk’s Emergency Management Coordinator Captain Jim Judkins offered a word of caution to people in the wake of Friday’s 100 degree-plus heat index, and with French officials declaring that a heat wave may have killed 10,000, he is concerned for citizens of Suffolk.

&uot;… I urge everyone to take extra steps to prevent heat-related problems,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;Even the simple things like planning outdoor activities early in the morning or late in the afternoon, dressing in light-colored clothes, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and taking frequent water breaks will help.&uot;


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Judkins also asked people not to forget one of the most dangerous hot weather problems: leaving children and pets in unattended vehicles.

&uot;Temperatures can quickly reach 140 degrees in a closed vehicle, with death or serious injury resulting,&uot; said the captain. &uot;It takes only minutes to die in temperatures like that and no one should leave children or pets for even a few minutes.&uot;

People living in urban areas can be at greater risk from the effects of prolonged heat than those living in rural regions. Health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory difficulties, can occur when stagnant atmospheric conditions trapped ozone and other pollutants in urban areas and add unhealthy air to excessively hot temperatures.

&uot;Excessive heat can also result in other problems including high demand for electricity, which could cause blackouts or brownouts such as occurred in New York,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;Heat can even cause pavement to buckle and higher than normal levels of ozone and other pollutants due to stagnant atmospheric conditions.&uot;

He also cautioned that pets and livestock could become heat victims if no shade and water are available. Also, the extreme temperatures can cause vehicles to overheat.

There are ways to keep the heat outside and cool air inside including, closing any registers that may allow heat inside. Also, install temporary reflectors in windows and skylights to reflect heat back out.

Judkins suggested a couple of methods of conserving electricity. He said vacuuming air conditioner filters regularly during periods of heavy use is important and can save energy. Keeping them clean will allow your air conditioner to provide more cool air.

The captain also offered a suggestion for people who do not have air conditioning in their homes.

&uot;Go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours if you do not have air conditioning,&uot; he said. &uot;These locations are safer because fans do not cool the air, and the heat in the home could result in serious illness.&uot;